January 15, 2021
Additional, much-needed support is on its way. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act’s Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER II) will deliver more than $2.2 billion in emergency relief to Pennsylvania’s school districts and charter schools. Preliminary allocations and answers to FAQs are available on PDE’s website.
To promote equity, efficiency, transparency, and local flexibility, all ESSER II funds will be distributed through the Title I, Part A formula. However, ESSER II funds are not Title I, Part A funds. Like the first round of ESSER funding awarded last spring, ESSER II funding can be leveraged for a wide range of activities, including all uses permitted by ESSER I as well as initiatives associated with measuring and remediating learning loss and efforts to ready school facilities for reopening. In developing local plans, remember that ESSER funding is non-recurring emergency aid. Accordingly, consider how ESSER II funding might interact with your other federal funding, and the role of enhanced funding flexibilities (PDF), to promote sustainable use. Please continue to prioritize equity in your planning and consider how such investments can accelerate opportunities for students and families living in deep poverty, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.
While Governor Wolf and I appreciate the bipartisan efforts to secure these much-needed funds for Pennsylvania’s school communities, I’m working alongside my colleagues from other states in calling on our Congressional delegation to take additional action and approve further investments in education recovery. I encourage you to join me in these efforts.
Last week, I joined Dr. Rachel Levine to announce updates to our instructional model guidance and to encourage a safe return of our most vulnerable students to in-person instruction as local conditions permit. While a return to in-person instruction will look different in every community, I am hopeful that these resources – together with the prioritization of educators and other school employees in our state’s vaccine deployment and your ongoing work to implement disease mitigation strategies – will make such a return more feasible and more equitable for increasing numbers of students.
Thank you for everything you do,