Before the end of 2020, the U.S. Congress passed a second round of coronavirus stimulus support as part of its annual budget process. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act of 2021 includes more than $53 billion for elementary and secondary schools. This funding is provided in addition to the CARES Act relief funding approved in March 2020.
What is CRRSA? What is ESSER II? What is GEER II?
Like the CARES Act before it, the CRRSA provides funding to school districts and state governors via the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) fund and the Governors Emergency Education Relief (GEER) fund. Because both stimulus packages use the same program name for schools, they are commonly referred to as ESSER I and ESSER II in reference to the CARES Act and the CRRSA, respectively.
Minimum Grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
- SEAs will receive funds within 30 days of enactment of the CRRSA.
- States must distribute funds to LEAs by January 2022.
- LEAs must obligate funds by September 30, 2023.
Maximum State Education Agency (SEA) Reserve
Unrestricted Use Funds
- Governors received these funds within 30 days of enactment of the CRRSA.
- Governors (and private school recipients) must obligate* these funds by September 30, 2023.
Emergency Support for Non-Public Schools
*The CRRSA requires SEA, LEA, and private school funding recipients to “obligate” their funding by a certain deadline or return the funds. Funds are “obligated” when the recipient commits those funds to specific purposes consistent with ESSER II.
What are allowable uses of ESSER II funds?
Allocations of ESSER II are generally unrestricted for use by LEAs. Anything schools use their regular federal funding for is allowable under ESSER II (as it is under ESSER I and the CARES Act), and generally anything necessary to help respond to and recover from the coronavirus is allowable.
- While the CARES Act was primarily intended to help schools respond to the coronavirus, the CRRSA includes additional new emphasis on recovering from the coronavirus. The law includes a new allowable use for ESSER II funds to address learning losses.
- ESSER II funds may not be used by states or LEAs to support private schools.
The ESSER II program does include a few specific allowable uses of funding related to technology use:
||ESSER II allowable uses related to technology
||D2L Brightspace Solutions
||Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including how to provide technology for online learning to all students
Minimum Grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs)
|Set up flexible learning options across your district based on student and community needs—blended, hybrid, or fully virtual. Seamlessly share messages to communicate about class activities, or connect face-to-face with students over video, all from right inside the Brightspace platform.
|Providing educational technology for all students that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors
|Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after-school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months
||Addressing learning loss among students, 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 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
|Brightspace offers a variety of assessment tools, custom learning pathways for differentiation and accommodations, tracking of progress toward mastery over time, and space for self-reflection on feedback.
|Incorporate evidence-based activities like assessment and analytics to identify student needs, personalize content to differentiate instruction, and involve families in their children’s learning progression.
|Communicate with families in a timely and meaningful way to increase engagement. Brightspace for Parents allows authorized parents and guardians to log in to see their child’s classroom feed, graded items, upcoming activities, and more.
|Help improve student engagement with immediate feedback and guidance, personalized notifications, and badges/certifications for progress and performance. Track student activity in course content, tasks, and assessment engagement even during hybrid and asynchronous learning.
How much will my state or district receive from ESSER II?
ESSER II funding under the CRRSA is distributed to states and then school districts in the same manner as ESSER I was distributed under the CARES Act:
- To SEAs, according to the existing ESEA Title I-A funding formula
- Then at least 90% of those state ESSER II funds must be distributed to districts by that same formula
- No federal or state application process is required for LEAs to receive their allotted ESSER II funds, but individual states may still require one
In general, for every $1 in ESSER funds that districts received under the original CARES Act, they will receive about another $4 under the CRRSA ESSER II.
Find out how much your state received from ESSER II: CRRSA Allocation Table
Availability of Funds
ESSER II funds have been disbursed to each state, but many states have yet to make those funds fully available to districts.
States are required to provide LEAs with their allocation before January 2022.
Check with your state education agency to determine when your district’s allocation will be made available and whether an application will be required.
The GEER II fund
The CRRSA Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER II) fund differs significantly from the similarly named fund under the CARES Act:
- $2.75 billion is reserved for emergency assistance to non-public schools (aka private schools)
- $1.3 billion is largely unrestricted in how a governor may use it, as it was under the CARES Act GEER fund, including to support higher education institutions
Private School Support
In comparison to ESSER II, the emergency assistance to non-public schools set-aside is far more explicit in how it may be used by private schools. And though each state will receive a proportional share of the funds, no private school is guaranteed a specific amount of funding under the program. Governors are required to use an application process for distributing funds to non-public schools and may deny an application request.
Here is an excerpt of a few allowable uses for non-public school funds related to technology:
|GEER II—Emergency Assistance to Non-Public Schools
|Educational technology (including hardware, software, connectivity, assistive technology, and adaptive equipment) to assist students, educators, and other staff with remote or hybrid learning
|Initiating and maintaining education and support services or assistance for remote learning, hybrid learning, or to address learning loss
For more information about the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools program, please refer to the FAQ released by the U.S. Department of Education.