COVID Relief Funding aims to help recover learning lost during extended school closings.

Blurry classroom

What this funding means for educational technology and accommodations

In late December of 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act with the intent to help students who have been adversely affected by the coronavirus pandemic—including those with special needs and disabilities, learning needs, and other challenges.

How much funding will be distributed?

Similar to the CARES Act funding, two pots of money are allocated for K-12 education—one will be distributed to governors to be spent as seen fit to meet the needs of students and schools. The other goes directly to districts (Local Education Agencies, LEAs) based on Title 1 proportions. The CRRSA Act allots almost four times the amount of money made available by the CARES Act of 2020.

 

The funding distributed to districts/LEAs through the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund) infuses $54.3 billion into K-12 education (about four times the amount of money provided per year by Title I) to help schools facilitate continuity of learning, measure student progress, and expand access to curriculum resources.

 

Of particular interest, this aid will be necessary and obligated to help schools provide differentiated instruction and learning resources to recover from learning loss / the COVID Slide.

Young girl getting her temperature taken in the classroom

What will my district get?

See your state’s allocation here.

 

While many schools are reevaluating their in-person or virtual learning systems, and many schools pivot back to in-person learning, it’s difficult to be optimistic in the face of overwhelming challenges to get students on the path of success. But considering the inequity gaps heightened and widened by extended school closure and prolonged eLearning, there is a responsibility to request and use this funding to help those students who may have fallen behind. It’s clear that in the fray of tackling the social, emotional, health, and educational needs of all students, certain student populations have been especially impacted by school disruptions.

 

Without advocating for students in need, the funding could get snapped up by someone else and their priorities, or as billions in CARES funding did—go unused entirely. Being in an eLearning mode for a good portion of the 2019-2020 school year, the lessons for education are clear:

 

  1. eLearning is no panacea for anyone—it’s tough on teachers, students, and families
  2. Economically disadvantaged students are doubly affected—from meal support to lacking access to the tools they need to learn—Chromebooks, internet, etc.
  3. Students with disabilities face incredible challenges learning more independently on screens without many of the supports they rely heavily on in school.
  4. English Language Learners (ELLs) face an English-driven interface without the additional supports they rely on to learn.
Student with mas in front of her laptop
Teacher and student in a wheelchair wearing masks in the classroom

How will this funding impact students with disabilities, ELLs, and the poor/disadvantaged?

The funding is specifically targeted for students who have fallen behind due to the COVID slide and recover the learning lost during prolonged eLearning or hybrid situations. For accessible learning advocates, here are the key points included in the usage obligations:

 

  • Purchasing of educational technology
    • Hardware, software, and connectivity
    • For students served, “that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors including low-income students and children with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.”
  • Providing technology for online learning to all students
  • Addressing learning loss
  • Implementing evidence-based activities to meet the comprehensive needs of students

This funding offers a renewed opportunity to help advocate for students and get what they need to get back on track.

 

Billions in CARES Funding went unused. New funding, disbursed by your state, should be requested as soon as possible! If it is not requested it will be allocated for other purposes. Ask now to purchase materials to assist teachers and students who have the greatest need. See your state for specific requirements.

COVID Funding Page

See More COVID Funding Resources here.

COVID Relief Aid Education Funding