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ESSER III Fund Frequently Asked Questions

American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER III) fund frequently asked questions and responses.

Acronyms

Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA); American Rescue Plan Act (ARP Act); Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act); California Department of Education (CDE); Code of Federal Regulations (CFR); Coronavirus Relief Funds (CRF); Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act); Community Violence Intervention (CVI); Emergency Assistance for Non-public Schools (EANS); Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA); Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA); Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER); Fiscal Year (FY); Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER); Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA); local educational agency (LEA); Standardized Account Code Structure (SACS); state educational agency (SEA)

General

  1. Do LEAs need to apply for ESSER III funds?

    Yes. In order to receive an allocation, LEAs must submit the ESSER III Legal Assurances, which are available now.

    The ESSER III Fund Application will close on December 17, 2021. All assurances must be received by this date.

    Please see the ESSER III Formula Allocations section for each LEA’s allocation.

  2. When is the last date that ESSER III Assurances can be signed?

    The ESSER III Fund Application will close on December 17, 2021. All assurances must be received by this date.

  3. Do any supplement not supplant requirements apply to ESSER III funds?

    No. The ESSER III Fund does not include a local supplement, not supplant, requirement. Thus, there is no prohibition on an LEA using ESSER III funds to pay expenses formerly funded by another source.

  4. What are the allowable uses of ESSER III funds?

    An LEA may use ESSER funds for the broad range of activities listed in section 18003(d) of the CARES Act, section 313(d) of the CRRSA Act, and section 2001(e) of the ARP Act, based on guidance that what is allowable under one of the ESSER funds is allowable under all of the ESSER funds. Use of any ESSER funds (ESSER I, ESSER II, or ESSER III) must be in accordance with allowable uses in any of these three federal stimulus acts. Below is a consolidated list of allowable uses. Please note that these allowable uses categories will also be utilized during quarterly reporting on each of the ESSER funds.

    1. Any activity authorized by the ESEA, the IDEA, the AEFLA, or the Carl D. Perkins Career and Technical Education Act of 2006 or the McKinney Vento Homeless Education Assistance Act.

    2. Coordinating preparedness and response efforts of LEA with state, local, tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses with other agencies to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus.

    3. Providing principals and other school leaders with the resources necessary to address the unique needs of their individual schools.

    4. Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population.

    5. Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of LEAs.

    6. LEA staff training and professional development on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.

    7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of an LEA, including buildings operated by such agency.

    8. Planning for, coordinating, and implementing activities during long-term closures, including how to provide meals, technology for online learning, guidance on IDEA requirements, and ensuring other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all applicable requirements.

    9. Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students served by the LEA that aids in regular and substantive educational interactions between students and their classroom teachers, including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.

    10. Providing mental health services and supports, including through the implementation of evidence-based full-service community schools.

    11. Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

    12. Addressing learning loss among students, including low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care, of the LEA, including by–
      • Administering and using high-quality assessments that are valid and reliable, to accurately assess students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic progress and assist educators in meeting students’ academic needs, including through differentiating instruction.
      • Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students.
      • Providing information and assistance to parents and families on how they can effectively support students, including in a distance learning environment.
      • Tracking student attendance and improving student engagement in distance education.
    13. School facility repairs and improvements to enable operation of schools to reduce risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs.

    14. Inspection, testing, maintenance, repair, replacement, and upgrade projects to improve the indoor air quality in school facilities, including mechanical and non-mechanical heating, ventilation, and air conditioning systems, filtering, purification, and other air cleaning, fans, control systems, and window and door repair and replacement.

    15. Developing strategies and implementing public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff

    16. Other activities that are necessary to maintain operations and continuity of services and continuing to employ existing staff.

    Additionally, Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires an LEA to reserve not less than 20 percent of its ESSER III allocation (Resource Code 3214) to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Allowable uses of this portion of funds are:

    1. Summer learning or summer enrichment
    2. Extended day
    3. Comprehensive afterschool programs
    4. Extended school year programs
    5. Evidence-based high dosage tutoring
    6. Full-Service Community Schools
    7. Mental health services and supports
    8. Adoption or integration of social emotional learning into the core curriculum/school day
    9. Other evidence-based interventions
  5. What does it mean for an intervention to be “evidence-based?”

    For purposes of this requirement, “evidence-based interventions” include practices or programs that have evidence to show that they are effective at producing results and improving outcomes when implemented. This kind of evidence has generally been produced through formal studies and research. There are four tiers, or levels, of evidence:

    • Tier 1 – Strong Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented randomized control experimental studies.
    • Tier 2 – Moderate Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented quasi-experimental studies.
    • Tier 3 – Promising Evidence: the effectiveness of the practices or programs is supported by one or more well-designed and well-implemented correlational studies (with statistical controls for selection bias).
    • Tier 4 – Demonstrates a Rationale: practices that have a well-defined logic model or theory of action, are supported by research, and have some effort underway by an SEA, LEA, or outside research organization to determine their effectiveness.

    For additional information, please see the Evidence-Based Interventions Under the ESSA Web page.

  6. How long do LEAs have to use ESSER III funds?

    ESSER III funds are available for obligation by LEAs through September 30, 2024. Although funds must be obligated by September 30, 2024, grant activities carried out through a valid obligation of funds may continue beyond that date. Under 2 CFR § 200.344(a), ESSER funds must be liquidated within 120 calendar days after the end of the performance period (September 30, 2024).

  7. Are ESSER III funds subject to an equitable services requirement?

    No, the ARP Act includes a separate program of EANS for which eligible non-public schools may apply to a SEA to receive services or assistance. Consequently, LEAs are not required to provide equitable services under ESSER III. More information can be found on the CDE’s EANS web page.

  8. Can Federal Stimulus Funds be used for CVI Programs and Strategies? (Added 02-Nov-2021)
    ESSER and GEER funds may be used for CVI programs and strategies to provide student support to re-engage disconnected youth and reduce community violence in places where COVID-19 has exacerbated inequities and increased community and school violence. For more information on CVI strategies and funding, please reference the U.S. Department of Education’s guidance, How American Rescue Plan Funds Can Prevent and Respond to Crime and Promote Public Safety External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) and the Biden-Harris Administration’s Fact Sheet External link opens in new window or tab. .

Funding

  1. How much funding was California awarded for ESSER III funds?

    The ESSER III Fund accounts for approximately $122 billion of funding for all states and California’s allocation is $15,079,696,097. No less than 90 percent of its allocation ($13,571,726,487) must be used to make subgrants to LEAs, based on each LEA’s share of funds received under Title I, Part A in FY 2020–21. The remaining up to 10 percent may be used for the State reserve.

  2. Will the CDE post preliminary allocations?

    Yes, the CDE has posted LEAs’ revised allocations on the ESSER III Funding Results Page.

  3. Are LEAs that did not receive Title I funds in the most recent fiscal year eligible for ESSER III Funds?

    With one exception, as described below, no, LEAs that did not receive Title I funds in FY 2020–21 are not eligible to receive ESSER III funds. LEAs receive ESSER III funds based on their relative share of FY 2020–21 Title I funds. If an LEA did not receive Title I funds in the most recent fiscal year—either because it was not eligible or because it declined funding—then it would not generate a share of ESSER III funds, and therefore not eligible to receive ESSER III funds.

    The exception is for charter schools that are new or significantly expanding in the 2021–22 school year. ESSER III funding for these charter schools is based on the share of funding they receive under Title I, Part A in FY 2020–21 due to their increased enrollment.

  4. Why is the CDE not apportioning an LEA’s full allocation? How will payments be calculated?

    As with most other federal funds apportioned to LEAs, ESSER III Funds are subject to federal cash management requirements. As such, CDE is required to implement cash management practices that minimize the time elapsing between the receipt and disbursement of funds by recipients of formula-based federal grants awarded by the CDE. By agreement with the federal government, CDE meets this requirement, in part, by apportioning LEAs 10% of their total allocation less remaining cash balance from prior apportionments.

  5. How often will LEAs receive payment?

    LEAs will receive payment approximately six to eight weeks after the quarterly reporting window closes.

  6. Are ESSER III funds subject to the excess interest calculation?
    Yes. For more information about interest calculation, see Calculating Interest Earned on Federal Funds.

Reporting

  1. Will LEAs be required to track ESSER I, ESSER II and ESSER III funds separately?

    Yes, ESSER III funds must be tracked separately from ESSER I and II funds. SACS Resource Codes 3213 and 3214 have been assigned for ESSER III revenue. Reporting occurs quarterly and annually. Please visit the Federal Stimulus Reporting Web page for more information on reporting deadlines.

  2. Why are there two resource codes for ESSER III funds?

    Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires an LEA to reserve not less than 20 percent of its ARP ESSER III allocation to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions. Resource Code 3214 describes the minimum 20% of funds required to be used to address the impact of lost instructional time. Resource Code 3213 describes the up to 80% of funds than can be used for the full range of allowable uses detailed below.

  3. Can LEAs use funds to reimburse previous expenses?

    Yes. The US Department of Education has stated that LEAs may use the funds for expenses incurred beginning March 13, 2020, the date on which the President declared a national emergency.

  4. Will LEAs be required to report to CDE on these funds?
    Yes, the CDE requires LEAs to report on the use of funds. Reporting windows and due dates can be found on the Federal Stimulus Reporting Web page. LEAs must log in to the CDE reporting portal during the reporting windows to document their expenditures for all ESSER and GEER funds. Please note that it is not possible to report expenditures outside of the reporting window.

Plans

  1. Is there anything other than the ESSER III Assurances that must be submitted in order to receive ESSER III funds?

    Yes. There are two required plans that must be submitted to support school reopening, safe school operations, and support for students:

    • Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan. An LEA that receives ESSER III funds must develop and make publicly available on the LEA’s website, within 30 days after signing ESSER III Assurances, a plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services. Prior to making the plan publicly available, the LEA must seek public comment on the plan and take such comments into consideration when developing the plan. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.
    • ESSER III Expenditure Plan. LEAs that receive ESSER III funds are required to develop a plan for how they will use ESSER III funds to, at a minimum, address students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs, as well as the opportunity gaps that existed before, and were exacerbated by, the COVID-19 pandemic. Finally, LEAs must provide the opportunity for public input and take such input into account.
      The plan must be adopted by the local governing board or body of the LEA at a public meeting on or before October 29, 2021 and must be submitted for review and approval within five days of adoption. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.
  2. How do we submit our Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan?

    The template to complete this plan can be found at ESSER III Safe Return to In-Person Instruction and Continuity of Services Plan Template (PDF). Submission and any questions regarding the template should be submitted to EmergencyServices@cde.ca.gov. This plan should be submitted within 30 days of signing ESSER III assurances. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.

  3. How do we submit our Expenditure Plan?
    LEAs should refer to the ESSER III Expenditure Plan template and instructions (DOCX). For assistance related to the ESSER III Expenditure Plan template and instructions, please contact LCFF@cde.ca.gov. This plan must be completed by October 29, 2021, regardless of when ESSER III Assurances were submitted.

    A school district must submit its ESSER III Expenditure Plan to its county office of education (COE) for review and approval. A COE must submit its plan to the CDE for review and approval via email at LCAPreview@cde.ca.gov. A charter school must submit its plan to its chartering authority for review, and to the COE of the county in which the charter school operates for review and approval. For more information about this plan, please visit the ESSER III Plans section of the ARP Act Funding web page.

Vaccinations

  1. Can ESSER and GEER funds be used to conduct vaccine clinics?

    ESSER and GEER funds may be used to facilitate vaccine clinics for staff, eligible students and household members. ESSER and GEER funds may be used to help implement public health protocols. Other vaccination outreach efforts are also allowable under ESSER and GEER. This can include public awareness campaigns and vaccine incentive programs. Please reference the On-Site Vaccination Clinic Toolkit External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF) for more information on how to facilitate a clinic.

  2. Are administrative costs associated with providing vaccinations allowable under ESSER and GEER funds?

    Reasonable administrative costs are allowable when associated with obtaining vaccinations.

  3. Can we give students incentives for getting vaccinated?

    Incentives are allowable under GEER and ESSER, provided they are reasonable in size and scope and likely to lead to an increase in the rate of vaccinations. Examples include nominal gift cards to each vaccinated student, prize drawings for tablets, new school supplies, college scholarship money, and reasonable cash awards. Any incentives provided by an LEA must meet the requirements in 2 CFR Part 200, including the requirement that the amount of the incentive be reasonable and may not violate any other applicable laws or requirements (e.g., incentives may not involve alcohol per 2 CFR § 200.423).

  4. Is it just students or can families get vaccinated at an ESSER or GEER funded vaccination clinic?

    Students, staff and household members can receive vaccinations from a LEA-facilitated clinic.

  5. Is COVID-19 screening and testing allowable under ESSER and GEER?
    COVID-19 screening and testing is an allowable use of ESSER and GEER funds, as it is part of implementing public health protocols. Consultation with state and local health officials is key to ensure the adequacy of any COVID-19 testing program and that all applicable laws and requirements are being followed.

Transportation

  1. May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to provide transportation for students to and from school? (Added 18-Nov-2021)

    Yes. Supporting or providing transportation services for students is an allowable use of funds under ESSER and GEER as long as the need is related to COVID-19 (e.g., to support daily attendance at school to address the impact of lost instructional time) and the cost is reasonable and necessary. This could include, but is not limited to, transportation services provided directly by the school district; the cost of public transportation services (e.g., bus or subway fare); taxis, rideshare apps, or other driving services; or compensation to parents for providing transportation services for their children.

    This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

  2. May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to provide transportation for students participating in after-school learning and enrichment activities provided by the LEA? (Added 18-Nov-2021)

    Yes. If activities take place away from the school or after regular transportation home has occurred and are intended to address student needs related to COVID-19 (e.g., to address the impact of lost instructional time), and the cost is reasonable and necessary, transportation may be an allowable use of ESSER or GEER funds. For example, an LEA may provide before- and after-school learning and enrichment activities for students including, for example, high dosage evidence-based tutoring to address the academic impact of lost instructional time, and other activities that address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of students, including extended school year (ESY) or other compensatory and related services for eligible students under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Reasonable and necessary costs of transportation to and from such activities would be an allowable use of ESSER and GEER funds.

    This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

  3. May an LEA use ESSER or GEER funds to address a shortage of school bus drivers due to the pandemic? (Added 18-Nov-2021)

    Yes. For example, an LEA may use ESSER or GEER funds for retention bonuses for current bus drivers, for salary increases, or for the cost of hiring additional bus drivers to address the shortage of bus drivers due to the pandemic. Similarly, if an LEA is operating more bus routes due to physical distancing, funds may be used to hire additional bus drivers. In addition, funds may be used to pay for the costs associated with obtaining a commercial driver’s license for new bus drivers, including the required training.

    This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

  4. May an LEA facing a shortage of school bus drivers use ESSER or GEER funds to compensate parents or guardians for transporting their students to and from school? (Added 18-Nov-2021)

    Yes. ESSER or GEER funds may be used to reimburse parents or guardians for transportation costs or to offer a stipend for transportation costs, as long as they are reasonable and necessary. This type of program may be appropriate to sustain in-person instruction if an LEA is experiencing challenges hiring and/or retaining the school bus drivers necessary to accommodate the LEA’s transportation needs. Before compensating parents or guardians for transportation costs, an LEA must develop clear, objective procedures that, in addition to other relevant factors, consider: the number of days of transportation provided for in-person attendance; documentation of the travel costs to ensure that the compensation is used only for transportation-related expenses; and a process to account for any ESSER or GEER funds that were paid to parents or guardians but not used for transportation costs.

    This FAQ is from the U.S. Department of Education's FAQs on Transportation External link opens in new window or tab. (PDF).

 

Questions:   CDE Federal Stimulus Team | EDReliefFunds@cde.ca.gov
Last Reviewed: Tuesday, November 30, 2021
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