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COVID-19 Impact on Federal Funding FAQ
Jump to a Question in this Section:
- What are ESSA requirements regarding the responsibility of LEAs to progress monitor student performance during the COVID-19-related school building closures?
- What is an LEA’s responsibility in maintaining consistent and meaningful stakeholder engagement in the development of the Consolidated Application during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What is an LEA’s responsibility for consulting with and providing equitable services to private schools during the COVID-19 pandemic?
- What are the next steps for ESEA Monitoring in the 2019-2020 school year?
- Will the Consolidated Application still be due June 30th?
ESSA requires that the LEA have a process for monitoring student progress but does not prescribe the frequency of progress monitoring. CDE encourages LEAs to conduct progress monitoring that makes sense given the local context and the changes in instructional practices due to the COVID-19 pandemic. In addition to progress monitoring requirements, CDE encourages LEAs to exercise a good faith effort to meet the intent and purpose of ESEA Title Programs that the LEA is participating in, as possible within the context of measures taken to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Updated April 20, 2020
CDE encourages LEAs to continue to make a good faith effort in meeting the intent and purpose of ESEA Title Programs, including meaningfully engaging stakeholders in the development of the Consolidated Application; however, CDE recognizes that such efforts might be less fruitful or productive than stakeholder engagement efforts and will look significantly different in practice than in other years. Where possible, CDE recommends involving stakeholders in the identification of needs, strategies, and best use of funds. Some LEA’s District Accountability Committees (DAC) are still meeting virtually and may be able to provide input. When possible, consider using existing relationships between school level personnel and families to seek input (for example, asking Special Education Specialists to reach out to families of students with disabilities to gather input). Documentation of the engagement efforts, including but not limited to tracking requests from families pertaining to their needs during the pandemic, will be critical for demonstrating good faith efforts. Therefore, LEAs are encouraged to track communications to and from various stakeholders, including any attempts to do outreach. Updated April 20, 2020
Unless a private school has completely stopped operations, the consultation process between districts and private school officials is still required and districts should establish procedures and strategies, including a communication process, that will be implemented throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. If an LEA is holding other meetings remotely, it would appear in general that the LEA can conduct consultations remotely as well. The frequency and manner of the consultation my change once social distancing limitations end.
Section 8501(c)(4) requires consultation to include service delivery mechanisms that the district could use to provide equitable services to eligible private school students, teachers, administrators, and other staff during the pandemic.
If the private school is unable to continue with previously approved/scheduled services, funds for equitable services to private schools can be carried over which will need to be made available to them in the next funding year. These carryover funds are not subject to the Title I 15% limit and should not be added to the districts total Title I funds that will be carried over into the next funding year. Updated May 14, 2020
CDE has paused all ESEA monitoring activities until further notice, including deadlines for submitting evidence. CDE will maintain and review all documents submitted to date to use when we resume monitoring activities. However, no additional documents or evidence needs to be submitted at this time. If you are participating in the 2019-2020 monitoring cycle, we will be reaching out in the future to discuss and jointly plan a new timeline. Site visits previously on the calendar for the spring of 2020 have been rescheduled, as needed, by working directly with the district and/or BOCES representatives. Updated April 20, 2020
Yes, but CDE has streamlined the application to minimize application burden, recognizing the challenges that districts and BOCES are facing with the current health crisis.
CDE has identified the following sections of the application that will be needed by June 30 to ensure that LEAs receive Substantial Approval.
- Funds Allocation
- LEA Profile
- School Profile
- Title I – Title V Funds pages (as applicable)
- Set-Aside Summary
- Budget Locations Totals
- Assurances Page
- Non-public schools' section
- Neglected and or Delinquent facility (if will be served)
- Assurance check boxes
- Title I – Title V Fund Pages (as applicable)
- Approval and Transmittal Signature Page
- BOCES Sign Over Signature Pages
- School Improvement Retention of Funds Signature Page
Note: CDE will accept documents authorized by the using the current policy in place.
- Electronic Signatures
- Email Authorizations
- If the LEA is accepting email authorizations, attach the email to the CDE signature form, save as one PDF file and upload to in the application.
The following sections of the application will be required for Final approval and due on the last business day in August.
- GEPA Statement
- Cross Program Narratives
- Title I, TS, Neglected, ID, II, III, IV Narratives
- Native American Education Tribal Consultation (Yearly Affirmation) Form – if applicable
- Non-public Schools Consultation Form(s)
Once the application is open, Regional Contacts will be providing technical assistance to LEAs for the completion of the application. Technical assistance can be requested by submitting a submittal form found on the Consolidated Application Training Center website. Updated April 20, 2020
Jump to a Question in this Section:
- Can LEAs exceed the 15% carryover limit on Title programs, given that many ESEA-funded events and activities have been cancelled or pushed to next year because of COVID-19?
- Can LEAs use ESEA funds to pay staff salaries during school closures? If allowed to continue to pay staff during closures, how will the district need to fund staff with multiple cost objectives?
- Can LEAs get an extension on grant reports (e.g., 21st Century Schools grant)? Will there be a standard extension granted, or will there be grant-specific extensions?
- Can staff who are funded under a Title Program be compensated for activities that fall outside the scope of the program due to shifts to online learning? For example, can instructional coaches funded with Title II, Part A support teachers in online instruction to facilitate learning, which are not "typical" coaching activities?
Colorado has requested and received a waiver of certain fiscal requirements, including the 15 percent Title I, Part A carryover limitation which allows CDE to waive this requirement for LEAs more than once every three years. This authority will give all Colorado districts the ability to carry over excess Title I funds into the 2020-2021 fiscal year. Additional information on the implementation of this waiver is forthcoming and will be posted on the COVID-19 and ESEA website. Updated May 14, 2020
Yes. Generally, a grantee or subgrantee may continue to charge the compensation (including but not necessarily limited to salaries, wages, and fringe benefits) of its employees who are paid by a currently active grant funded by the Department to that grant, consistent with the organization’s policies and procedures for paying compensation from all funding sources, Federal and non-Federal, under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances, such as a public health emergency like COVID-19. Additional information is provided on the U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet released April 8, 2020. Updated April 20, 2020
CDE is providing as much flexibility as possible to the use of funds, the life of those funds and any reporting associated with those funds. For funds awarded in the Consolidated Application and through the EASI application, use the established revision systems to make any adjustments to funds. For grant programs managed outside of the Office of Federal Programs, such as the 21st Century Schools Grant, we encourage LEAs/schools to reach out to their grant contacts at CDE. Updated April 20, 2020
4. Can staff who are funded under a Title Program be compensated for activities that fall outside the scope of the program due to shifts to online learning? For example, can instructional coaches funded with Title II, Part A support teachers in online instruction to facilitate learning, which are not "typical" coaching activities?
LEAs must maintain appropriate records and cost documentation to substantiate the charging of any salaries and other project activities costs related to interruption of operations or services. At the same time, recipients should consider ways that employees paid with grant funds can support continuing activities, including distance learning opportunities for students served by the grant. Additional information is provided on the U.S. Department of Education Fact Sheet released April 8, 2020. Updated April 20,2020
Jump to a Question in this Section:
- Are LEAs able to change existing proposed activities in 2019-20 Consolidated Application to support technology for online learning?
- Will flexibility be granted on the kinds of technology that can be procured to support student online learning (e.g., hotspots, data cards, Chromebooks, etc.) beyond what is typically allowed for technology infrastructure costs? Specifically, can flexibility be granted to support the most at-risk students, such as homeless students?
- Concerning Homeless students, and money set aside for emergency items: What can be considered emergency supplies with school closures and students needing food, blankets, supplies, and technology?
- Will flexibility be granted to use Title IV to support school’s technology needs, i.e., can LEAs exceed 15% limit under effective use of technology?
- How will days with limited online learning be considered with regard to contact days and attendance?
Yes. In most cases, it is allowable to use ESEA funds to make technology purchases. A letter (PDF) from the U.S. Department of Education provides some examples of how funds under Titles I through IV of the ESEA may support the use of technology to improve instruction and student outcomes. Any revisions to existing proposed activities should be submitted as a Post-Award Revision in the 2019-20 Consolidated Application. The Post-Award Revision submittal window has been extended to June 30, 2020 to accommodate changes in plans due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Updated May 14, 2020
2. Will flexibility be granted on the kinds of technology that can be procured to support student online learning (e.g., hotspots, data cards, Chromebooks, etc.) beyond what is typically allowed for technology infrastructure costs? Specifically, can flexibility be granted to support the most at-risk students, such as homeless students?
In most cases, it is allowable to use ESEA funds, including the Homeless Set-Aside, to make technology purchases. The CARES Act also includes a provision for waiving the Special Rule which places a 15% cap on using Title IV, Part A funds within the Effective Use of Technology content area to purchase devices, equipment, software applications, platforms, digital instructional resources and/or other one-time IT purchases. CDE has applied for and been awarded a preliminary waiver for the Title IV, Part A requirements and now has the authority to allow the use greater than 15% of IV-A funds for such purposes. Districts wanting to make technology purchases that are different than existing proposed activities should submit a Post-Award Revision in the 2019-20 Consolidated Application. The requirement for demonstrating a need through a Comprehensive Needs Assessment prior to using funds for technology purchases has also been waived. Updated April 20, 2020
Title I, Part A funds may be used to provide a wide variety of services to homeless students, including those that may not ordinarily be provided to other Title I students. The services may be greater in scope and intensity, and/or different in nature than those normally provided. When considering the use of the set-aside funds, the LEA should consider if the services are reasonable and necessary to assist homeless students to take advantage of educational opportunities and determine that there are no other funding sources available. Updated April 20, 2020
On April 6, 2020, CDE applied for and received the authority to implement waivers for the spending limitations for technology infrastructure for FYs 2018 and 2019 and content-area spending requirements for FYs 2018 and 2019 Title IV, Part A funds while awaiting formal approval from the US Department of Education. Once formally approved, this authority will give all Colorado districts the ability to waive the Title IV requirements listed above due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Additional information on the implementation of this waiver is forthcoming and will be posted on the COVID-19 and ESEA website. Updated April 20, 2020
The department has developed guidance on this topic which can be found here. Updated April 20, 2020
Jump to a Question in this Section:
- Once Colorado receives ESSER funding, do districts need to apply for this money? Will it be distributed based on a formula or based on first come first serve? To all districts or only to those that apply?
- Can districts reimburse themselves through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSERF) for COVID-related expenses?
- Are ESSER funds subject to supplement not supplant requirements?
- Are ESSER funds subject to maintenance of effort (MOE) requirements?
- Are ESSER funds Title I funds and therefore subject to Title I requirements?
- Will BOCES be eligible to receive funding from ESSER funds?
- What are the LEA's obligations for conducting a needs assessment for planning their use of their ESSER fund allocation?
- Is hazard pay an allowable reimbursement?
- Can ESSER funds be used to pay for salaries?
- How long do LEAs have to use ESSER funds?
- What are the allowable uses of ESSER funds?
- Must LEAs that receive ESSER funds provide equitable services to non-public schools?
- Which non-public schools must be provided an opportunity to participate in equitable services under ESSER funds?
- What formula will be used in the LEA application for ESSER funds to calculate non-public schools proportionate share?
- How should LEAs determine allocations for charter schools?
- Where are the ESSER fund allocations posted for each LEA?
- Can a non-public school have COVID-19 related expenses that occurred on or after March 13, 2020 reimbursed?
- Will time and effort be required if we pay for salaries out of ESSER funds?
- Does the LEA application for ESSER funds require a presentation to the local school board or signature of the board prior to submittal of the application?
- Can a district facing severe financial crisis, due to declining state/local funds, use federal funds to provide basic, general education services?
- How do we account for students that attend non-public schools within our district boundary but reside outside of our district?
- How do we determine the number of children who are from low-income families and attend private school for the purpose of calculating the proportionate share under Title I, Part A?
- Will we use the same consultation form that we use for the Consolidated Application for the ESSER fund?
- When will we be required to submit the ESSER Non-public Schools Certification form?
- If ESSER funds are used to purchase technology equipment (e.g., laptops) for students in charter schools, do we need to get those laptops back after the grant period ends?
- When purchasing software licenses, we can get a substantial discount if we purchase 3-year (or multi-year) subscriptions. Is this allowable under ESSER?
- May an LEA or State Education Agency (SEA) use ESSER funds to provide teachers with young children childcare services?
- May an LEA or State Education Agency (SEA) use ESSER funds for a pre-kindergarten or other early childhood education program?
- May ESSER funds be used to pay for HVAC systems not tested in school environments?
- If an LEA receives funds under ARP ESSER III, is the LEA required to follow CDC’s directives to control the spread of COVID-19?
- If an LEA receives funds under ARP ESSER III, is the LEA required to develop a plan describing the prevention and mitigation strategies it will use to ensure the safety and health of students and staff?
- What are the required components of the Safe In-Person Plans under ARP ESSER III?
- Will the LEA lose its ARP ESSER III funds if the LEA’s Safe In-Person plan does not comply with CDC guidance?
- Are the requirements for the ARP ESSER III grants the same as the requirements for the ARP CDC COVID Workforce Cooperative Agreement?
1. Once Colorado receives ESSER funding, do districts need to apply for this money? Will it be distributed based on a formula or based on first come first serve? To all districts or only to those that apply?
Yes. The ESSER funding includes formula funds (90% of the state’s full allocation) which will be allocated to LEAs based on Title I shares. Districts will need to submit an application for their allocation of ESSER funds. CDE is working to determine the minimum information needed from LEAs in order to distribute funds. The process for distribution of the remaining state reserve/set-aside funds (up to 10% of the total state allocation) has not yet been determined. Updated May 1, 2020
Yes, as long as the costs are within the allowable uses of ESSERF. We understand that grant funds can be used for allowable activities that occurred on or after March 13, 2020. Updated May 1, 2020
No. Updated May 1, 2020
Each SEA that accepts funds under ESSER must maintain support for elementary and secondary education and higher education in fiscal years 2020 and 2021, at least at the level of such supports that is the average of the state education supports provided in fiscal years 2017, 2018, and 2019. The USDE may grant a waiver from this requirement if the SEA can demonstrate precipitous decline in resources. CDE will monitor financial resources available for education in coming years to determine whether a waiver will be necessary. Updated May 1, 2020
No. While ESSER funds are based on the Title I formula, these funds there are not Title I funds nor subject to Title I spending rules, such as supplement, not supplant and rank and serve requirements. ESSER funds will not count toward Title I carryover limits and are not limited to Title I eligible students or schools. However, LEAs that receive ESSER funds are required to provide equitable services to eligible students and teachers in non-public schools, in compliance with Section 1117 of ESEA. Updated May 1, 2020
Any LEA that received a Title I, Part A allocation in fiscal year 2019-20 is eligible to receive an allocation under ESSER, from the 90% LEA formula distribution. Because BOCES do not receive a direct Title I allocation, they also will not receive a direct ESSER allocation. However, BOCES may be eligible to apply or receive funding under the 10% state reserve once CDE decides how these funds will be used. CDE will be using a survey to get stakeholder feedback on how it might use these funds.
Note: Districts still have the authority to assign fiscal authority to the BOCES for the administration of these funds.Updated May 1, 2020
LEAs may use their allocation for whatever needs are associated with COVID-19 and allowable under Section 18003(d) of the ESSER fund (see response to question 5 above). Although LEAs are suggested to identify needs associated with COVID-19 in planning the use of funds, there is no specified requirement to conduct a comprehensive needs assessment. LEAs are required to provide equitable services to public and non-public school students and may use funds to address any needs associated with continuing to provide educational services, such as remote learning, while school campuses are closed, and developing and implementing plans for return to normal operations. LEAs are encouraged to consider using funds to address digital divide needs, including securing access to home-based connectivity and remote-use devices, related issues to supporting remote learning for all students, including disadvantaged populations.Updated May 13, 2020
LEAs may use ESSER funds for bonuses or additional pay, such as hazard pay, only when such expenses are related to disruptions or closures resulting from COVID-19. [Source Part B: Programmatic, Fiscal, and Reporting Assurances (#7) of the SEA’s Certification and Agreement to the USDE] Updated May 13, 2020
Among the allowable uses of ESSER funds are "Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency". An SEA and LEA may use ESSER funds for any allowable expenditure incurred on or after March 13, 2020, the date the President declared the national emergency due to COVID-19.
Salaries paid with ESSER funds must be necessary, reasonable, and allocable for the purposes of continuing educational services during school closures or for implementing a plan for return to normal operations, and incurred during the award period between March 13, 2020 and June 30, 2021 [CARES Act, Section 18003(12) - other activities necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services and continuing to employ the existing staff of the LEA] and cannot subsidize or offset executive salaries and benefits of individuals who are not employees of the LEA, or expenditures related to state or local teacher/faculty unions or associations. Updated June 17, 2020
ESSER funds are available for obligation by LEAs and other subrecipients through September 30, 2022, which includes the Tydings period (General Education Provisions Act §421(b)(1)). Updated May 19, 2020
LEAs can use ESSER funds for activities authorized by ESEA, IDEA, the Adult Education and Family Literacy Act, the Perkins CTE Act, or the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act. Additional information about the allowable uses of funds can be found on the ESSER Fund Allowable Uses webpage. In addition to these, LEAs can use funds for the following activities:
- Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State, local, Tribal, and territorial public health departments, and other relevant agencies
- Planning for and coordinating on long-term closures (including on meeting IDEA requirements, how to provide online learning, and how to provide meals to students)
- Staff training and professional development on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious disease; purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean facilities
- Purchasing educational technology (hardware, software, and connectivity) for students, that aids in the regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their instructors, which may include assistive or adaptive technology
- Mental health services and supports
- Summer learning and supplemental after-school programs
- Discretionary funds for school principals to address the needs of their individual schools
- Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation and continuity of services in LEAs and to continuing the employment of their existing staff
Yes. LEAs that receive ESSER funds are required to provide equitable services to students and staff in non-public schools, in compliance with Section 1117 of ESEA. Control of funds reserved for equitable services and items purchased with the funds must remain in public control.
All not-for-profit non-public schools within the LEA’s boundaries, regardless of their prior participation or declining to participate in ESEA-funded equitable services, must be provided an opportunity to participate.
The application will follow the formula in Section 1117 of ESEA, using the number of eligible students who reside in Title I school boundaries and attending a non-public school located in the LEA boundaries.
Formula: [Number of eligible students residing in Title I school boundaries, attending NPS divided by (number of eligible students residing in Title I school boundaries attending NPS + number of eligible students enrolled in Title I schools in the LEA)]
The CARES Act does not directly address allocation of district ESSER funds to charter schools that are not standalone LEAs. The clear legislative intent, however, is to benefit all public schools and students regardless of school type.
CDE asks that districts include their charter schools on equal footing with traditional schools when determining the most important educational needs as a result of COVID-19, consistent with the intent of the CARES Act, see CARES Act Sec. 18003(d)(3), and the intent of Colorado law, see C.R.S. 22-30.5-112(3).
LEA allocations have been posted here. Districts that were not awarded a Title I allocation in the 2019-2020 funding year will not receive a direct allocation from the 90%. However, CDE could use a portion of the State reservation to provide support to those districts.
LEAs are not permitted to reimburse non-public schools (NPS) for activities that were paid for by the non-public school and NPSs cannot accept federal funding. However, under the CARES Act, LEAs can reimburse COVID-19 related expenditures that occurred on or after March 13, 2020.
For a NPS to have COVID-19 related allowable expenses reimbursed, the NPS will need to determine the status of their COVID-19 related invoices. If the invoice has been paid by the provider, the NPS can work with the provider to issue a refund and ask the provider to invoice the LEA. If the invoice is not been paid, the NPS can ask the provider to re-issue the invoice to the LEA for payment.
This process and the allowability of expenses must be addressed during the consultation between the NPS and the district and an agreement must be met before reimbursement to reimburse allowable COVID-19 related expenses.
Just as with any federal grant, various federal legislations apply to ESSER funds. For example, if salary is paid with federal funds, Time & Effort is generally required. A grantee must maintain appropriate records and cost documentation as required by 2 CFR §200.302 (financial management), 2 CFR § 200.430(i) (standards for documenting personnel expenses), and 2 CFR §200.333 (retention requirements for records) to substantiate the charging of any compensation costs related to interruption of operations or services. For a list of application federal requirements, see assurances listed in the LEA application or the SEA’s Certification and Agreement for ESSER funds.
The LEA is required to follow local policies and protocols for obtaining grant signature authority, informing the school board of grant funding, and uses of funds, as well as informing the local board of the decision to apply for ESSER funds and the plans for the use of funds. Therefore, the ESSER fund application can be submitted with the signature of the superintendent or district leadership authorized to sign grant applications on behalf of the district in accordance to the LEA's local policy.
Consider using CARES Relief Funds first. LEAs received per pupil allocations under CARES Relief Funds (CRF) by Executive Order from the Governor for this purpose. After CRF funds, consider using ESSER funds for this purpose. If the district still has financial needs after those funding sources have been considered and used, contact the ESEA Regional Contact(s) to consider various allowable activities under Titles I-IV.
The LEA will need to consult with neighboring districts to determine if the student resides in a Title I school boundary to be counted in the proportionate share calculation.
Section 1117(c)(1) LEAs with four methods to select from to determine the number of children who are from low-income families and attend private school for the purpose of calculating the proportionate share under Title I, Part A.
When deciding the standard to apply when determining the low-income status of a student attending private school, the local educational agency has the final authority to determine which of the following methods is comparable and appropriate:
(1) the same measure of low income used to count public school children (i.e. free or free and reduced);
(2) the results of a survey that, to the extent possible, protects the identity of families of private school students, and allowing such survey results to be extrapolated if complete actual data are unavailable;
(3) the low-income percentage of each participating public school attendance area to the number of private school children who reside in that school attendance area; or
(4) an equated measure of low income correlated with the measure of low income used to count public school children.
Income eligibility guidelines will be posted on the Equitable Services in Non-public Schools webpage.
No. LEAs will need to capture the consultation process on the attached ESSER Non-public Schools Certification form. LEAs and non-public schools will certify that a consultation process has occurred, and an agreement has been reached with respect to the ESSER funds.
All regulations in the Uniform Grants Guidance, 2 CFR 200, and EDGAR apply to ESSER funds, including the purchase, use, tracking, and disposal of equipment purchased (See e.g., §200.33 Equipment and § 200.313 Equipment for proper use and disposal).
Specifically, equipment purchased with federal funds can continue to be used for the same purpose (e.g., remote learning) even after the grant award ends. [2 CFR 200.313(a)(1)].
When the equipment is no longer needed for the purpose for which it was purchased, if the per unit fair market value is less than $5,000, the equipment may be retained, sold or otherwise disposed of with no further obligation to the Federal awarding agency. [2 CFR 200.313(e)(1)].
Yes, but proper accounting of the license and tracking of expenditures is required. Licenses could be prepaid that extend beyond the fiscal year of purchase, but only up to September 2022, which is the end of the grant performance period.
If purchasing a license that goes beyond September, 2022, a district would need to prorate the cost applied to the ESSER grant for an amount up to September 2022 and apply the remaining cost to another source, likely general fund.
In recording the initial payment for the licenses, the district will need to book the prorated portion that is applicable to year 2021 and 2022 as a ‘prepaid’ cost then reverse the entries in 2021 (2021 portion) and again in 2022 (2022 portion).
Yes, if the costs are reasonable in amount and constitute a necessary response to the COVID-19 pandemic. See Sections 18003(d) of the CARES Act and 2 CFR §§ 200.403-200.405. For example, an LEA might contract with a daycare provider to make spaces
available for teachers with young children whose regular daycare services are unavailable due to COVID-19 so that those teachers can continue to provide educational services to students. See CARES Act section 18003(d)(12).
An LEA might also provide a retention incentive to teachers with young children that could offset the cost for childcare in order to retain those teachers, which is an allowable use of funds under Title II of the ESEA, if teacher retention is a challenge due to COVID-19. See
CARES Act section 18003(d)(1).
Yes. Because an early childhood education program is an allowable use of funds under the ESEA, it is allowable under the ESSER Fund if the need for the program is in response to COVID-19, and the costs of the program are reasonable and necessary.
CARES Act section 18003(d)(1); 2 CFR §§ 200.403-200.405. ESEA section 8101(16) defines “early childhood education program” as it is defined in the Higher Education Act of 1965. Under that definition, an “early childhood education program” is:(A) a Head Start
program or an Early Head Start program carried out under the Head Start Act (42 U.S.C. 9831 et seq.), including a migrant or seasonal Head Start program, an Indian Head Start program, or a Head Start program or an Early Head Start program that also receives State
funding; (B) a State licensed or regulated child care program; or (C) a program that— (i) serves children from birth through age six that addresses the children’s cognitive (including language, early literacy, and early mathematics), social, emotional, and physical
development; and (ii) is— (I) a State prekindergarten program; (II) a program authorized under section 619 or part C of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act; or (III) a program operated by [an LEA]. To be an allowable use of funds under section 18003(d)(1) of
the CARES Act, an early childhood education program funded under ESSER must meet this definition. CARES Act section 18007(8).
Although it is an allowable use of ESSER funds to upgrade or repair HVAC systems to improve air quality, it is the responsibility of the LEA to follow local procurement policies/procedures, federal regulations pertaining to construction, and install/use HVAC systems that have been tested by the EPA in school systems. Districts that have installed untested systems are urged to seek advice from experts in this area (e.g., local contractors, engineers, CDPHE) to ensure the safety of students and staff in schools where such systems have been installed and are being used. It is advisable to collect stakeholder feedback on the use of these systems as well to ensure that staff, families, and students feel safe in the environment impacted by these systems. For additional information, please see the letter to districts that have previously used stimulus funds for such systems.
No, but Local Education Agencies must develop a plan for describing the prevention and mitigation strategies it will use to ensure the safety and health of students and staff that to the extent practicable align with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance.
31. If an LEA receives funds under ARP ESSER III, is the LEA required to develop a plan describing the prevention and mitigation strategies it will use to ensure the safety and health of students and staff?
Yes. Each LEA that accepts funds under ARP ESSER III is required to develop and make publicly available a plan that describes the prevention and mitigation strategies the LEA is using to ensure safety and health of students and staff.
The ARP ESSER III LEA Safe In-Person Plans must describe the prevention and mitigation strategies that are being used in order to continuously and safely operate schools for in-person learning. To the extent practicable, the strategies should be in line with CDC guidance and include the following information:
- 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)
- LEA’s practices or policies pertaining to the following as applicable:
- 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
- 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
No. The ARP ESSER III requirements are that the LEA consider and align with the CDC guidance to the extent practicable. This requirement is met as long as the LEA’s Safe In-Person Plan describes how the LEA is addressing each required component listed above, as well as which prevention and mitigation strategies the LEA is using to ensure safety and health of students and staff to be able to continuously and safely open schools for in-person learning.
No. Although both funding streams come from the American Rescue Plan Act, they have different requirements. The U.S. Department of Education awarded ARP ESSER III funds to states, and state educational agencies, such as the Colorado Department of Education, administer the funds. ESSER III funds require Local Education Agencies (i.e. school districts) to have plans for schools to continuously and safely offer in-person learning. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines must be taken into consideration and, to the extent practicable, the strategies should be aligned with those guidelines. However, there is no requirement to implement the CDC guidelines. In other words, LEAs are responsible for considering the CDC guidelines and developing a plan that best fits their local needs and context.
The ARP funding for state public health agencies is a separate funding stream with different requirements. In Colorado, this includes the COVID Workforce Cooperative Agreement funds that were awarded to the Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment. Although 25% of this funding is to be used to support school-based health programs, this funding is not administered by the Colorado Department of Education. For specifics about the requirements associated with this funding stream, visit the CDC’s webpage.