USD 234 went to Spring Break in March 2020 assuming everyone would recharge and be back in a week. None of us knew that we were getting ready to be faced with one of the biggest challenges our school district had ever experienced. The following federal funding was put in place to assist schools during the pandemic.
The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was enacted on March 27, 2020 and included Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds for K-12 schools. These ESSER grants were to provide school districts with emergency relief funds to address the impact COVID-19 had on elementary and secondary schools.
On December 27, 2020, the federal Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act of 2021 (CRRSA Act), was signed into law and provided additional funds for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II Fund).
The purpose of the additional funding is to provide direct money to LEAs to assist in safely reopening schools, measuring and effectively addressing significant learning loss, and taking other actions to respond to the impact of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families. Allowable uses include all possible expenditures under ESSER I.
On March 11, 2021 the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act was signed into law. The ARP ESSER III funding from the ARP Act provides support for K-12 schools to help safely open and sustain the safe operations of schools and address the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the nation's students. The ARP Act also allocates funds to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).
Although the ARP ESSER III uses of funds are similar to those for ESSER I and II, there are important distinctions between ARP ESSER III, ESSER II, and ESSER programs, including the period of funds availability, equitable services to non-public schools, maintenance of effort, and a report on efforts to measure and address learning loss.
Districts are also required to develop and seek public comment on plans for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. This information must be made publicly available on the local educational agency's website no later than 30 days after receiving the allocation of funds.