LEA Plans for the Use of ARP ESSER Funds
Describe what the SEA will require its LEAs to include in LEA plans consistent with the ARP ESSER requirements for the use of ARP ESSER funds, how the SEA will require such plans to be made available to the public, and the deadline by which the LEA must submit its ARP ESSER plan (which must be a reasonable timeline and should be within no later than 90 days after receiving its ARP ESSER allocation). The LEA plans must include, at a minimum:
As PDE advised the USDE on May 13, 2021, PDE requires all eligible LEAs to submit completed plans for the use of ARP ESSER funds through the state's eGrants system; this process ensures consistency in administration across the three ESSER funds. Plans must be tailored to the specific needs faced by students and schools within the LEA, must reflect the perspectives of diverse stakeholders, and must address communities and student groups most impacted by the pandemic. The subrecipient application includes the following sections:
- Assessing Impacts and Needs;
- Engaging Stakeholders in Plan Development;
- Using ARP ESSER Funds to Plan for Safe, In-Person Instruction;
- Proposed Budget and Timeline;
- Monitoring and Measuring Progress; and
- ARP ESSER Fund Assurances.
Division of Federal Programs staff supports the application process by providing technical assistance to LEAs, reviewing grant applications, and overseeing grant implementation during the period of fund allowability.
An LEA's plan must be publicly available on its website, written in a language that parents/caregivers can understand, and provided in an alternate format upon request by a parent/caregiver who is an individual with a disability.
Eligible school districts and charter schools are encouraged to apply for ARP ESSER funds by September 1, 2021. Notably, LEAs must submit a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan (Health and Safety Plan) to PDE by July 30, 2021, regardless of when the LEA submits its ARP ESSER application.
The extent to which and how the funds will be used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies that are, to the greatest extent practicable, in line with the most recent CDC guidance, in order to continuously and safely operate schools for in- person learning;
In question (8)(c) of the LEA ARP ESSER application, LEAs must describe plans for using ARP ESSER funds to support prevention and mitigation policies, in line with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC.
In addition, the LEA ARP ESSER application assurances include the following:
The LEA's Health and Safety Plan includes (1) how the LEA will, to the greatest extent practicable, support prevention and mitigation policies in line with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff; (2) how the LEA will ensure continuity of services, including but not limited to services to address the students' academic needs, and students' and staff members' social, emotional, mental health, and other needs, which may include student health and food services; (3) how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff and the extent to which it has adopted policies, and a description of any such policy on each of the following safety recommendations established by the CDC: (a) universal and correct wearing of masks; (b) modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding); (c) handwashing and respiratory etiquette; (d) cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation; (e) contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State and local health departments; (f) diagnostic and screening testing; (g) efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities; (h) appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies; and (i) coordination with state and local health officials.
The LEA will review its Health and Safety Plan at least every six months during the duration of the ARP ESSER grant period and make revisions as appropriate. When determining whether revisions are necessary, the LEA will take into consideration significant changes to CDC guidance on reopening schools and will seek public input and take public input into account.
The LEA's Health and Safety Plan will be made publicly available on the LEA website and must be written in a language that parents/caregivers can understand or be orally translated for parents/caregivers and must be provided in alternate format upon request by a parent/caregiver who is an individual with a disability.
The LEA will provide to PDE: (1) the URL(s) where the public can readily find data on school operating status; and (2) the URL(s) for the LEA websites where the public can find the LEA's Health and Safety plan as required under section 2001(i) of the ARP Act; and the LEA Plan for the Use of ARP ESSER Funds.
To support LEAs in this work, PDE issued health and safety guidance for the 2021-22 school year on June 4, 2021. This guidance, updated following issuance of new CDC guidance issued in July 2021, includes a crosswalk to key CDC resources, answers to frequently asked questions, and a sample template that allows LEAs to update local health and safety plans from the 2020-21 school year to align with CDC guidance and the ARP Act's Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan requirements.
How the LEA will use the funds it reserves under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act (totaling not less than 20 percent of the LEA's total allocation of ARP ESSER funds) to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs;
PDE requires LEAs to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment, reflective of stakeholder engagement, in planning for the use of ARP ESSER funds, beginning with the minimum 20 percent reservation as required by section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act.
More specifically, LEAs must outline how funds reserved under section 2001(e)(1) will help address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as tiered support systems, summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs. LEA plans must include:
A description of the evidence-based interventions (e.g., providing intensive or high- dosage tutoring, accelerating learning) the LEA has selected, and how the LEA will evaluate the impact of those interventions on an ongoing basis to determine effectiveness;
How the evidence-based interventions will specifically address the needs of student groups most disproportionately impacted; and
The extent to which the LEA will use funds it reserves to identify, engage, and support (1) students who have missed the most in-person instruction during the 2019- 20 and 2020-21 school years; and (2) students who did not consistently participate in remote instruction when offered during school building closures.
How the LEA will spend its remaining ARP ESSER funds consistent with section 2001(e)(2) of the ARP Act; and
Based on the needs assessment described above, PDE requires LEAs to outline how remaining ARP ESSER funds will be used to address the following, as applicable:
Continuity of Services: How the LEA will use ARP ESSER funds to sustain services to address students' academic needs; students' and staff social, emotional, and mental health needs; and student nutrition and food services.
Access to Instruction: How the LEA will use ARP ESSER funds to support the goals of increasing opportunity to learn and equity in instructional delivery. LEAs are directed to consider regular attendance/chronic absenteeism data from the 2020-21 school year, including data disaggregated by student groups, in developing their response.
Mitigation Strategies: How the LEA will use ARP ESSER funds to support prevention and mitigation policies in line with the most up-to-date guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities and transportation services to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff.
Facilities Improvements: How the LEA will use ARP ESSER funds to repair and improve school facilities to reduce risk of virus transmission, address environmental health hazards, and/or improve ventilation.
In addition, in its
Local Education Agency Guidebook, PDE provides LEAs with three pages of suggested areas for expenditure of ARP ESSER funds, under the categories of safe, in-person schooling and continuity of services; facilities and grounds upgrades; social-emotional learning, trauma-sensitive schools, and health and wellness; staff recruitment, support, and retention; academic recovery and acceleration; and family and community partnerships.
PDE continues to update information and guidance to assist LEAs in appropriate use of ARP ESSER funds. Webinars, networking meetings, individual technical support, and regularly posted FAQs are some of the methods used to support LEAs.
To support implementation of learning loss (both academic and social and emotional) plans under both sections 2001(e)(1) and (2), IUs will collaborate with LEAs in their assigned region to develop detailed plans for instructional delivery grounded in evidence; facilitate effective progress monitoring routines; convene networked learning communities quarterly to share promising practices and collectively problem-solve problems of practice; and assist in collecting data from LEAs for periodic reports to PDE.
In addition, PDE, IUs and PaTTAN have partnered in the development of
Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Supports, a systematic process and technical support bank for school communities to utilize as they make key decisions for the start of the new year. PDE will continue to build on these resources and provide networking sessions to support LEAs in the implementation phase of their plans during the 2021-22 school year.
How the LEA will ensure that the interventions it implements, including but not limited to the interventions under section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, will respond to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of all students, and particularly those students disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, including students from low-income families, students of color, English learners, children with disabilities, students experiencing homelessness, children and youth in foster care, and migratory students.
Consultation of rigorous evidence is crucial to ensuring that ARP ESSER funds address the educational and other harms of the pandemic and related crises of the past year. In its initial round of ARP ESSER guidance to LEAs, PDE instructed subrecipients to evaluate prospective interventions against the state's online
Evidence Resource Center (ERC) a customized website designed by Pennsylvania educators and some of the nation's foremost education scholars. The ERC identifies strategies backed by research and allows educators to filter these strategies based on Federal evidence tiers, school type or grade level, specific student groups, and other factors. Schools operating under Federal accountability designations,
now extended through 2022, must assure that ARP ESSER plans reflect consultation of the ERC.
In addition, Pennsylvania's enacted fiscal year 2021-22 budget allocates the three required SEA reserves under 2001(f)(1), 2001(f)(2), and 2001(f)(3) of the ARP Act as subgrants that may be used by LEAs to implement evidence-based interventions to address learning loss, provide summer learning and enrichment, and implement comprehensive after-school programs in response to the academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, particularly student groups disproportionately impacted by the pandemic. Each LEA receiving a share of the SEA reserve for learning loss, summer learning and enrichment, or after-school programs will be required to utilize subgrant funds to implement evidence-based interventions, either chosen from the PDE ERC or from another reputable source (e.g., What Works Clearinghouse). The LEA also must submit to PDE a three-part plan that includes a description of each program and activity to be offered, the benefits for each program and activity, how the program or activity will provide equitable supports for all students, and a budget for each program and activity. Through both interim and final reporting, PDE will collect data on funding uses and outcomes.
Finally, to ensure LEAs implement interventions focused on the social, emotional, and mental health needs of students, particularly those disproportionately impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, LEAs must use their respective shares of the five percent SEA reserve for learning loss as follows: at least 30 percent to address social, emotional, and mental health needs of students; at least 10 percent to provide professional development and technical assistance to educators, school support staff including school counselors and other pupil services support staff, school leaders, and school health professionals; and at least eight percent to address remediation and improvement in reading for students.