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ARP ESSER Requirements

Overview of Requirements

This page will cover the following additional requirements under ARP ESSER III:

  • 20% Set Aside
  • Use of Funds Plan

  • Safe In-Person Plans
  • Maintenance of Equity

  • Maintenance of Effort
  • State and LEA data reporting requirements

20% Set Aside

ARP ESSER III requires each LEA to set aside and use a minimum of 20% of allocated funds for interventions to address the academic impact of lost instructional time. These interventions must be evidence-based and designed to respond to students' social, emotional and academic needs with a specific focus on students who have been 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.

Examples of activities that meet this requirement include:

  • Summer Learning Programs
  • Summer Enrichment Programs
  • Extended Day
  • Comprehensive after-school programs

Evidence-Based Interventions

Activities designated as part of the 20% set aside must meet the requirements for an evidence based intervention (EBI) as designated by the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA). The research-base can fall into any of the four categories:

Evidence Level Study Design
(1) Strong Evidence Supported by an experimental or randomized control trial (RTC) study.
(2) Moderate Evidence Supported by at least one quasi-experimental study.
(3) Promising Evidence Supported by at least one correlational study with statistical controls for selection basis.
(4) Evidence that Demonstrates a Rationale Supported by relevant research or an evaluation which suggestions that the intervention is likely to improve a student outcome or other relevant outcome.

For more information about EBIs and a list of resources for finding EBIs, see CDE's ESSA resources.

LEA Use of Funds Plan

LEAs are required to develop and submit a plan for how the LEA will use ESSER III funds. The plan must:

  • describe the process for determining student and staff academic, social, emotional and mental health needs;
  • describe how the LEA will use the 20% to address the academic impact of lost instructional time through the implementation of evidence-based interventions;
  • describe how the LEA will spend its remaining funds;
  • describe how the LEA will ensure that interventions will address the academic, social, emotional and mental health needs of students, particularly students from historically underserved populations.

The plan must be developed in consultation with stakeholders and take into account public input. Plans must be:

  • Posted on the LEA website in a format and language that parents can understand.
  • Submitted to CDE through the ARP ESSER III application. The Narrative Question in the application and a complete budget (or additional narrative questions with an incomplete budget) satisfy this submission requirement.


Safe In-Person Plan

Each LEA that accepts funds under ARP ESSER III must develop and make publicly available an LEA Safe In-Person plan that summarizes the strategies that the LEA is implementing to ensure the safety and health of students and staff. The plan must describe how the LEA is implementing prevention and mitigation strategies to minimize the spread of COVID-19, in line with CDC guidance, in order to continuously and safely operate schools for in-person learning.

LEAs were required to post a Safe Return to or Remain In-Person Instruction Plan on the LEA's website within 30 days of receiving ESSER III funding. ARP requires that the plan describe how the LEA will maintain the health and safety of students, educators and other school and LEA staff. Plans should describe any policies pertaining to CDC and local health department guidance, including the following components:

Important Dates

  • The frequency by which the plan will be reviewed (and updated if needed)
    • first review must occur within 6 months of original posting and at least every 6-months thereafter
  • Academic needs (in-person and remote learning options)
  • Student and staff social, emotional, mental health, or other needs (may include student health and food services)

Layered Prevention Strategies

  • Vaccination
  • Universal and correct wearing of masks
  • Modifying facilities to allow for physical distancing (e.g., use of cohorts/podding)
  • Handwashing and respiratory etiquette
  • Cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities, including improving ventilation
  • Contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine, in collaboration with the State, local, territorial, or Tribal health departments
  • Diagnostic and screening testing
  • Efforts to provide vaccinations to school communities
  • Appropriate accommodations for children with disabilities with respect to health and safety policies; and
  • Coordination with State and local health officials
  • Levels of Community Risk and Phased Prevention
    • Collaboration with public health officials
    • How decisions are made about preventative actions

LEAs are required to hold a public comment period on the plan's development and the plan should be written in a format and language that parents can understand, including responding to any requests for translations or making the material accessible.

Helpful Links:

Maintenance of Effort

To meet Maintenance of Effort requirements, states in receipt of ARP ESSER funds must maintain overall support for elementary and secondary education in FY 2022 and 2023 at the same proportional level of support averaged over FY 2017, 2018, and 2019. Unlike Maintenance of Effort under Title I, Part A, ESSER III requirements apply only to state funding levels and are determined based on maintaining a proportionate level of funding rather than a dollar-per-dollar comparison. There is no Maintenance of Effort for LEAs under ESSER III. 

For more information about ESSER Maintenance of Effort requirements, see the USDE guidance document.

Maintenance of Equity

ARP ESSER III includes a new federal provision called Maintenance of Equity. These protections safeguard school districts and schools that serve a large share of students from low income backgrounds against experiencing a disproportionate reduction in funding in fiscal years (FYs) 2022 and 2023 (i.e., school years 2021-2022 and 2022-2023). These requirements also ensure that school districts serving the largest shares of students from low-income backgrounds do not receive a decrease in State funding below their FY 2019 level.

Under this statute, LEAs must meet two requirements comparing fiscal years 2022 and 2023 to 2021. 

  • LEAs cannot reduce per pupil funding for high poverty schools disproportionately to the rest of the schools within the LEA (the total reduction within LEA divided by the number of students currently enrolled in the LEA). 

  • LEAs cannot reduce per pupil funding for high poverty schools by an amount that exceeds the total reduction, if any, in FTE staff per-pupil in all schools served by the LEA. 

For a more detailed description of the Maintenance of Equity requirements, click here.