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ESSER II Funding and SoftLINK: Support for Classroom and Long-Term Remote Learning

COVID-19 has had a major impact on everyone’s life since the pandemic’s onset in the spring of 2020.  No aspect of our day-to-day life has been left unaffected, including our educational infrastructure.  Schools have had to abruptly switch from in-person teaching to hybrid or remote learning, or a combination of each.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education has provided more than $13 billion in assistance funding to elementary and secondary schools across the United States under the Coronavirus Aid, Recovery, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund is a small part of the CARES Act.  ESEER funding is available to help states and their local school districts address the learning loss and impact of the national school closures.  It is also intended to assist with the implementation of measures to safely reopen schools.

An additional $54.3 billion was allocated in December 2020 for the ESSER II Fund.  This additional financial support is meant to continue to support schools and students as the pandemic continues.  This equates to roughly $1,000 per student in the public school system.  Currently, these funds will be available for school districts through September 2023.

What technology can your school purchase*?
ESSER and ESSER II lists three major stipulations for the potential purchase and use of learning technology solutions, which are summarized below:

  • Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (20 U.S.C. 1401 et seq.) and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements.
  • Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment.
  • Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental afterschool programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

*Reference section (d) USES OF FUNDS, subsections (8), (9), and (11) of  Certification and Agreement for Funding under the Education Stabilization Fund Program Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund

Does SoftLINK qualify for ESSER funding?
SoftLINK, along with Applied Computer Systems’ other EdTech solutions, qualify for ESSER funding.  SoftLINK’s unique feature-set “provides classroom instruction” capabilities to teachers, regardless of the student’s electronic device, be it Surface Pro, Chromebook or another device.  ACS also offers a remote learning solution that can provide school districts with “online learning during the summer months” or “during long-term closures.”

How does my school apply for funding**?
State Education Agencies (SEAs) must apply directly to the U.S. Department for Education for ESSER funding.  Local school districts must apply to their appropriate SEA for their ESSER funding.
** Reference Frequently Asked Questions about the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund)

Additional resources from the Office of Elementary & Secondary Education:

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