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​June 4, 2021

This message was shared for the 2020-21 school year.

Dear Colleague,

Thank you for your work and leadership to implement Pennsylvania's nearly $5 billion share of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

Every education leader feels a moral and professional responsibility to use these non-recurring resources to benefit students and school communities. The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) is committed to supporting you in these efforts with timely guidance, including through a comprehensive Local Education Agency Guidebook released today. This Guidebook includes Pennsylvania's Theory of Action for implementation of ARP ESSER funding, school entity case studies that highlight promising practices, and information on allowable uses and other directives from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). I extend my gratitude to the more than 20 stakeholders who helped set the direction for the Guidebook by sharing their experiences, perspectives, and priorities for ARP ESSER implementation.

Additionally, the ARP Act requires each LEA that receives ARP ESSER funds to develop and make publicly available a Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan—what we are referring to as a Health and Safety Plan. USDE has outlined specific requirements for these plans and, therefore, the plans will be different than the one each LEA submitted for the 2020-21 school year. Accordingly, PDE is pairing the release of our Guidebook with a sample Health and Safety Plan template that LEAs can use to satisfy ARP ESSER requirements. In addition, PDE's website now offers answers to frequently asked questions on the Health and Safety Plan.

While the federal pandemic aid will create historic opportunities for schools across Pennsylvania, it comes with immense responsibility. I encourage you to visit PDE's website often to access our growing collection of ARP ESSER tools and resources: education.pa.gov/ARPESSER, and hope the resources shared today are of value to you and your team as you move forward.

Thank you for your leadership, commitment to equity, and fortitude as we transition to the next chapter of this critically important work.

-Noe