$122 billion from the American Rescue Plan will help to open the majority of K-8 schools, and support ongoing safety and equity offerings.
Today, less than a week after President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan (ARP), the U.S. Department of Education (Department) announced the amount of ARP Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funding that each State, Puerto Rico, and the District of Columbia will receive to support their efforts to reopen K-12 schools safely this month and equitably expand opportunity for students who need it most. Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona delivered the news directly to state education commissioners in a letter issued today and said the Department will begin to make these funds available to state educational agencies (SEAs) this month. The announcement coincides with the Department of Health and Human Services’ announcement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) will provide $10 billion to states to support COVID-19 screening testing for K-12 teachers, staff, and students in schools, and marks swift action by the Biden-Harris Administration to meet the President’s goal of safely reopening the majority of K-8 schools within the first 100 days of his administration.
“This pandemic has taken an extraordinary toll on students, parents, educators, and schools, and we know that our schools, students, and communities need help now to reopen safely and quickly, and to stay open,” said Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona. “These funds from the American Rescue Plan and the extraordinary steps the Department is taking to get these resources to states quickly will allow schools to invest in mitigation strategies to get students back in the classroom and stay there, and address the many impacts this pandemic has had on students—especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”
The Department announced the allocation that each SEA will receive under the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund, totaling $122 billion in relief for K-12 schools. The Department will begin to make these funds available this month so that they may act to fund health and safety measures consistent with CDC guidance, address the disruptions to teaching and learning resulting from the pandemic—especially for students hardest hit by the pandemic—and get students back in the classroom quickly and safely.
In his letter, Secretary Cardona urged states and school districts to utilize these funds with the same sense of urgency the President and Congress used to pass the American Rescue Plan Act and with the same commitment that families and educators have to getting students back in classrooms for in-person instruction safely.
The ARP ESSER funds may be used to address the many impacts of COVID-19 on pre-K through 12 education, including:
- Investing in resources to implement CDC’s K-12 operational strategy for in-person learning to keep educators, staff, and students safe; improving ventilation; purchasing personal protective equipment (PPE); and obtaining additional space to ensure social distancing in classrooms.
- Avoiding devastating layoffs and hiring additional educators to address learning loss, providing support to students and existing staff, and providing sufficient staffing to facilitate social distancing.
- Implementing strategies to meet the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students hit hardest by the pandemic, including through evidence-based interventions and critical services like community schools.
- Funding crucial summer, afterschool, and other extended learning and enrichment programs.
- Hiring additional school personnel, such as nurses and custodial staff, to keep schools safe and healthy.
- Providing for social distancing and safety protocols on buses.
- Funding for Wi-Fi hotspots and devices for students without connectivity for remote learning and supporting educators in the effective use of technology; and
- Additional uses as allowed in the statute.
Secretary Cardona also underscored the importance of advancing equity in states’ efforts to reopen schools quickly and safely. The Secretary encouraged states to make sure students who have been hit hardest by COVID-19 are provided with the resources and support they need to emerge from this pandemic stronger. American Rescue Plan funds can be used by SEAs and school districts to equitably expand opportunities for students who need the funds most, including students from low-income backgrounds, students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, students experiencing homelessness, and students with inadequate access to technology. Secretary Cardona also reaffirmed the Department’s ongoing commitment to providing technical assistance, guidance, and best practices to states as they work to utilize these funds.
Additional information, including an ARP ESSER Fact Sheet and allocation tables, can be found at https://oese.gov/american-rescue-plan-elementary-and-secondary-school-emergency-relief.