Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief

Three stimulus measures were enacted by Congress in 2020 and 2021, totaling about $190.5 billion for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund.

Under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) Title-IA, states get funding in the same proportion as each other. According to their proportional share of ESEA Title I-A funds, states must transfer at least 90% of money to local education agencies (LEAs).

States can set aside 10% of their allotment for emergency requirements to address challenges related to the COVID-19 pandemic, as assessed by the state.

Activities and Costs


ESSER offers short-term relief funding to LEAs in order to alleviate COVID-19's consequences on primary and secondary schools.

While further relief money may be appropriated by Congress in the future, ESSER is not a long-term expenditure assistance program. Before using ESSER III or ESSER II resources, DPI advises LEAs to deplete ESSER I and then ESSER II funding.


The USDE urges LEAs to use ESSER money to take comprehensive steps to prevent learning loss, repair and maintain high-quality learning environments, and safely reopen elementary and secondary schools as soon as feasible.

Low-income students, children with impairments, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students suffering homelessness, and children and teens in foster care are among the kids whose needs should be prioritized by LEAs.


While ESSER allocations are derived using the Title I method, these dollars are not subject to Title I restrictions and can be utilized for any ESSER-approved activity.

Coordination with public health, purchasing educational technology, planning for long-term closures, sanitation training and supplies, mental health support, summer school and after-school programs, funds for principals to address local needs, and other activities to keep schools open and employ existing staff are all examples of allowable activities.


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