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​May 24, 2021

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

Dear Colleague,

As the end of the school year approaches, I know you and your team are busy planning for the next one. To support your work, I write today with important updates, reminders, and information regarding the American Rescue Plan's Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER), which will deliver nearly $4.5 billion in emergency, non-recurring aid to school districts and charter schools across Pennsylvania.

Apply for Funds

The ARP ESSER application system is now open in eGrants.

Distribution of Funds

As previously communicated, ARP ESSER funds will be distributed via the Title I, Part A formula. However, as with ESSER I and ESSER II, ARP ESSER funds are not bound by Title I rules. Like the first two rounds of ESSER, ARP ESSER funding can be leveraged for a wide range of activities, including all uses permitted by ESSER I and ESSER II, as well as initiatives associated with measuring and remediating learning gaps and efforts to ready school facilities for reopening.

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.

Remember that all ESSER funding is non-recurring emergency aid. Accordingly, consider how ARP ESSER funding might interact with your other federal funding, including the role of enhanced funding flexibilities, to promote sustainable use.

Guide for Implementation

PDE will release a Local Guidebook for ARP ESSER Implementation in the coming weeks. The Guidebook will:

  • Provide additional information on Federal requirements, such as ARP's LEA Maintenance of Equity provisions;
  • Outline principles for engaging stakeholders in ARP ESSER plan development; and
  • Include initial detail on PDE's plans for statewide strategies as required under the ARP.

Resource Hub

My team just added several answers to frequently asked questions about ARP ESSER to the PDE website. New FAQs are marked with a red asterisk.

These FAQs, as well as estimated allocations, prior messages from me and my team, and a link to eGrants are all housed in the ARP ESSER section of PDE's website.

Tools and Plan Template

Finally, ARP ESSER application requirements include the development of a Plan for the Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Instruction, hereinafter referred to as the LEA Health and Safety Plan. This plan must be submitted to PDE by Friday, July 30, 2021.

My team continues to monitor Federal guidance in this space and is committed to developing and distributing resources and tools to support LEAs through this process. In early June, we expect to a sample template to guide LEAs with adjusting their existing local Health and Safety Plans to meet both State and Federal expectations in a single filing.

Thank you for serving, supporting, and courageously leading your school communities.

- Noe