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COVID-19 & post-COVID-19 federally-funded support for education

The federal government has supported school districts around the country with supplemental funds for continued, if altered, operations under COVID-related restrictions and mitigation efforts.

Three rounds of COVID relief funding have been authorized by U.S. Congress since the start of the pandemic. The rounds of funding are called the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief — also known as ESSER. Each round of ESSER funds have been authorized by separate legislative acts that the president has signed into law.

These rounds are:

  • ESSER I— authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act
  • ESSER II — authorized by the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act
  • ESSER III — authorized by the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act


In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. Congress passed three stimulus bills providing almost $190.5 billion to the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund. States receive funds based on the same proportion that each state receives under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title IA. States must distribute at least 90 percent of funds to local education agencies (LEAs) based on the proportional share of ESEA Title IA funds. States have the option to reserve 10 percent of the allocation for emergency needs as determined by the state to address issues responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. [Source: National Conference of State Legislatures.]

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020, provided $13.5 billion to the ESSER Fund.
  • The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, 2021 (CRRSA), passed on Dec. 27, 2020, provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER II fund.
  • The American Rescue Plan Act, passed on March 11, 2021, provided $122.7 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, known as the ESSER III fund.

 

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