ESSER Funds: Answers to Frequently Asked Questions
What schools are eligible for ESSER funding?
Under the CARES Act, eligible recipients include school districts and charter schools. Pursuant to the CARES Act, public schools that did not receive Title I, Part A funding, either because of ineligibility or a decision to decline funding, will not receive a grant.
How can school districts apply for ESSER funds?
School districts can apply for funding by submitting a streamlined application to PDE in the eGrants system. Please see the attachments below for the HHSD application content that has been approved thus far.
How can school districts use these funds?
Funds may be used to:
- Coordinate preparedness and response efforts to COVID-19;
- Provide principals and other school leaders with resources to address individual school needs;
- Address the unique needs of low-income children, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including outreach and service delivery;
- Implement systems to improve LEA preparedness and response efforts;
- Deliver professional development for LEA staff on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease and purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean LEA facilities;
- Plan for and coordinate operations during long-term closures, including how to provide meals, technology for online learning, guidance for carrying out IDEA requirements, and providing educational services consistent with applicable requirements;
- Purchase educational technology (including hardware, software and connectivity) for students;
- Provide staff and student mental health services and supports;
- Plan and implement summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs; and
- Initiate other activities necessary to maintain LEA operations and services and employ existing LEA staff, including any activity authorized by ESEA which include the Title programs, IDEA, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, Perkins, and McKinney-Vento.
In planning for ESSER funds, LEAs are advised that CARES Act funding is one-time, emergency aid. As such, LEAs should consider how CARES Act funding might interact with other federal funding and the role of enhanced funding flexibilities to ensure strategic and sustainable use. And while the pandemic has had tremendous consequences for all Pennsylvanians, PDE urges recipients to keep equity in the forefront of planning by prioritizing investments for vulnerable students and families, including those living in the deepest poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
Please refer to the HHSD ESSER and Non-ESSER Tables attached to review how monies have been used thus far.
Additional information about ESSER can be read in this article from Education Week.