New Jersey Department of Education

American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary Schools Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER)

On August 12, 2021, the U.S. Department of Education announced its approval of New Jersey’s ARP ESSER State Plan.  The approved plan reflects New Jersey’s commitment to supporting students, educators, and schools as they safely return to in-person learning while addressing the academic, social, emotional, and mental health impacts of COVID-19.  As part of the development of the State plan, the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) engaged with stakeholders throughout the State and we are grateful for this valuable input which helped to ensure that the State plan meets the needs of all of New Jersey’s students. For additional information, please see highlights of the approved plan.

About The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act

On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed the Federal American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund, Public Law 117-2, into law. As with the previous ESSER funds available under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, and the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), the purpose of the additional funding is to support local educational agencies (LEAs) in preparing for and responding to the impact of COVID-19 on educators, students, and families.

In addition to the ESSER I and ESSER II uses of funds which includes hiring new staff and avoiding layoffs, the ARP ESSER requires LEAs to reserve not less than 20 percent of its total ARP ESSER allocation to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs, and ensure that such interventions respond to students’ academic, social, and emotional needs and address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student groups.

In addition, section 2001(e) of ARP specifically authorizes an LEA to use ARP ESSER funds to develop strategies and implement public health protocols including, to the greatest extent practicable, policies in line with guidance from the CDC for the reopening and operation of school facilities to effectively maintain the health and safety of students, educators, and other staff.

ARP ESSER Fund awards to LEAs (including charter schools that are LEAs) are allocated in the same proportion as those funds received under Part A of Title I of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, as amended, in school year 2020-21.  In accordance with the Act, LEAs are not required to provide equitable services. ARP includes a separate program, the Emergency Assistance to Non-public Schools (ARP EANS). Additional information regarding ARP EANS will be forthcoming. Information regarding the first EANS program that was authorized under the Coronavirus Response, Relief, and Supplemental Appropriations Act can be found on the NJDOE Nonpublic site. It is important to note that ARP ESSER funds are not subject to Title I, Part A requirements.

It should also be noted that ARP ESSER funding is a one-time appropriation from the U.S. Department of Education (USDE). In developing local plans, LEAs should consider how ARP ESSER funding might interact with other federal funding to promote sustainable use.

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