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State and Federal Departments of Education: Federal Funding Helping Schools Rebound from the Pandemic


Upper Darby, PA - The U.S. Department of Education (USDE) and the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) today visited Upper Darby School District to highlight how communities are using federal American Rescue Plan (ARP) Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) investments in Pennsylvania schools.

U.S. Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten and PDE Deputy Secretary Sherri Smith met with students, teachers, and parents at Bywood and Garretford elementary schools to see how the district is using ARP ESSER funding to support students’ learning, and social, emotional and mental health recovery from the pandemic.

“Pennsylvania’s educators, students, and school communities have spent the last two years pivoting and adjusting to this new normal, and the federal ARP ESSER dollars present a tremendous opportunity to return to what’s most important — the matter of teaching and learning,” said PDE Deputy Secretary Smith. “Through this assistance, Pennsylvania’s schools are getting back on track, our students are rebounding from missed learning opportunities, and our educators are able to once again focus on teaching.”

Since President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan into law last year, including $130 billion to support recovery efforts at K-12 schools, more than 99 percent of elementary and secondary school students across the country have returned to classrooms for in-person learning.

At least 90 percent, or $4.5 billion, of the nearly $5 billion in ARP ESSER funding was directed to traditional public school districts and charter schools. Each entity received an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020 under the Every Student Succeeds Act. The school districts and charter schools must use at least 20 percent of this money to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care.

Schools can use the rest of the funding for a wide range of activities, including food service; professional training; technology purchases; sanitization and cleaning supplies; summer and after-school programs; and mental health supports.

Funds must be used by September 2024. Under the American Rescue Act of 2021, PDE is using the remaining $500 million of ESSER funding for interventions that address learning loss, support summer enrichment and comprehensive afterschool programs, and assist schools that do not receive a direct ESSER allocation such as career and technical schools and intermediate units.

For more information on the Pennsylvania Department of Education, please visit the website or follow PDE on FacebookTwitterYouTube, or Pinterest.  

MEDIA CONTACT: Kendall Alexander -

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