The ESSER Relief Fund, also known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, was established by the United States Congress to provide emergency funding to schools affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The fund is part of the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, signed into law in March 2020.
The ESSER Relief Fund provides funding to State Educational Agencies (SEAs) and local education agencies (LEAs), including school districts and charter schools. The funding can be used for a wide range of purposes related to the pandemic, including:
- Purchasing cleaning and disinfecting supplies.
- Improving ventilation systems in schools.
- Providing mental health services and support to students and staff.
- Purchasing educational technology for remote learning.
- Addressing learning loss caused by school closures.
- Providing professional development to teachers and staff.
View all of the allowable uses and eligible solutions in this ESSER III summary.
The amount of funding available to each state is determined by a formula that considers the number of students enrolled in the state and the number of students from low-income families. The funding is allocated to the state’s SEAs, which are then responsible for distributing the funds to LEAs.
LEAs have significant flexibility in how they can use the funding, but they must use the funds in a manner consistent with the ESSER Relief Fund’s purpose of responding to the pandemic. LEAs must also provide regular reports to their SEA on how the funds are being used.
The pandemic has significantly affected students, particularly those from low-income families and those with disabilities. School closures, disruptions to learning, and social isolation have all contributed to increased mental health issues among students.
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 further guidance: