Covid-19 has hit everyone hard over the past year. Schools are no exception. Education has switched from in-person to remote or hybrid learning. Teachers and staff have been laid off and there has been a lot of learning loss. This situation has led to a lot of people not being sure where to turn.
Thankfully in December, Congress passed the ESSER II Bill. The money in this bill is designated to help get schools back on track.
What Exactly is the ESSER II?
The ESSER II also known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund is part of the COVID relief package. This fund is meant to help get schools running again and help address the learning loss that happened because of Covid-19. The total Covid relief package is $900 billion. Of that sum, $81.9 billion is designated to go to education. This is four times the amount from the CARES act that was passed in March of last year. Of the money that is available, 54.3 billion is going to public schools and 4.1 billion is going to private schools. The money available to public schools is roughly $1000 per public student.
In the public sector, the money in the fund will be split between the states. The ESSER money will then be similarly distributed to the school districts as Tier 1 money is distributed. The funds will be available for use until September of 2023.
How Can ESSER II Money be Used?
The ESSER money can be used to help students with disabilities, students of racial and ethnic minorities, low-income students, and English learners. It can be used to address learning loss. The ESSER II funds can also be used to keep schools up and running. This includes using the money to keep schools physically open and staff employed. Each school can choose how to use their money for their school-based off of the school’s individual needs.
A lot of things can fall under the two categories above, so here are just some of the ways that schools can use their ESSER II Funding:
- Things that are listed under the federal education law, ESSA, or the individuals with disabilities act (IDEA)
- Cleaning supplies
- Mental health services
- Efforts to reduce the spread of COVID
- Summer programs
- After school programs
- Activities and items that specifically address learning loss
- Technology to help remote instruction
- New laptops
- Video software
- Classroom management software like Vision