What is ESSER III?
As part of the American Rescue Plan, the $122 Billion Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER III) is administered through the U.S. Department of Education and is intended to support efforts by states and school districts to safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools as well as address the impact of the coronavirus pandemic on students.
American Rescue Plan and ESSER III Overview for Schools
How is ESSER III funding and other American Rescue Plan (ARP) education funding being allocated among schools?
There is approximately $170 Billion in American Rescue Plan funding allocated to schools and institutions of higher learning. Here’s a breakdown for each of the funds:
- $122 Billion allotted to the Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. State Educational Agencies (SEAs) must award at least 90% of the funding it receives to LEAs in an expedited and timely manner and, to the extent practicable, within 60 days of receipt. This subgrant process will vary by state.
- $39.6 Billion allotted to the Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) Fund.
- $2.75 Billion allotted to the Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools (EANS) Program which is focused on non-public schools that enroll a significant percentage of low income students and are most impacted by the qualifying emergency.
What are the allowable uses of ESSER III Funds?
LEAs must reserve at least 20 percent of its total ARP ESSER allocation to address learning loss through implementation of evidence-based interventions. The remaining ARP ESSER funds may be used for a wide range of activities arising from the coronavirus pandemic, including those allowed under the existing ESSER program. Some of the allowable uses include:
- Developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff.
- Coordinating preparedness and response efforts with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to prevent, prepare for, and respond to COVID-19.
- Training and professional development on sanitizing and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
- Repairing and improving school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards.
- Planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and providing technology for online learning.
What is the timing and distribution process for the ESSER Funds?
ESSER funding was awarded to states in March 2021. SEAs will need to make the required sub grants to LEAs within 60 days of receiving these funds to the extent practicable. It is anticipated that funding for institutions of higher learning and non-public schools will be issued on an expedited basis.
Funding will be available for obligation until 9/30/23.
Where can I find additional guidance on the American Rescue Plan funding for schools? Please see the below resources from the U.S. Department of Education for additional guidance: