The STEM Education Blog

Everything your school needs to know about CARES Act funding

May 6, 2020 12:00:00 PM / by Rebecca Ellis

The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act was written into law on March 27 to provide economic assistance during the COVID-19 pandemic. One of the provisions set forth by the act, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, provides $13 billion of funding to K-12 schools to support their response to the coronavirus. However, some confusion remains about how exactly these funds can be spent.

Section 18003 of the CARES Act outlines for what activities a local education agency (LEA) can use the funds, which fit into three main categories: addressing inequity, purchasing education technology and professional development resources, and providing physical and emotional support.

Addressing Inequity

Canva - Kids doing homework together at home_Because most schools have shifted online for the remainder of the semester, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund seeks to provide equal access to all students, so they can all receive a quality education at home. This could include buying laptops and WiFi hotspots for students who may otherwise not have access to their schoolwork as well as offering students equipment to learn technical competencies.

In this category, according to Section 18003 of the CARES Act, the funds could be used for:

Purchasing Education Technology and Professional Development Resources

Another important part of the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund is to provide students and teachers with the technology needed to adapt educational institutions online and prepare for long-term school closures. This could include technologies like new curriculum suitable for an online environment or smaller coding or robotics kits that students can access at home. They could also include online professional development resources for teachers to enhance their teaching capabilities in the new virtual environment.

Canva - Girl in Pink Shirt Sitting by the TableIn this category, according to Section 18003 of the CARES Act, the funds could be used for:

  • Purchasing educational technology for students that aid in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their teachers – may include assistive technologies for students with disabilities.
  • Planning for providing technology during long-term closures.
  • Planning activities for summer learning and afterschool programs.
  • Other activities necessary to maintain operation and services in schools and continue employing staff.

Providing Physical and Emotional Support

Finally, the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund was put in place to support activities that help their students and staff emotionally and physically. These activities include providing emotional support services as well as sanitation education and meal support to support the wellbeing of the school.

In this category, according to Section 18003 of the CARES Act, the funds could be used for:

  • Developing and implementing preparedness and response efforts of schools.
  • Training for staff about sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases.
  • Purchasing sanitation and cleaning supplies to clean school buildings.
  • Providing mental health and support services.
  • Providing meals to eligible students during long-term closures.

The funds are distributed to each state based on the proportion of Title I, Part A funds they received in the 2019 fiscal year. For information about your state’s funding, click here, and learn more about the CARES Act here.

Topics: Education Technology, Professional Development

Rebecca Ellis

Written by Rebecca Ellis