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Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

On March 27, 2020, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act was signed into law and provides funding and flexibilities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus (COVID-19).



CARES Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund

OSSE applied for and received a $42,006,354 CARES-ESSER award. The purpose of CARES-ESSER is to provide LEAs with emergency relief funds to address the impact COVID-19 has had, and continues to have, on elementary and secondary schools. This includes both providing distance learning and developing plans for return and recovery.

Formula Funding for LEAs: Per federal requirements, 90 percent of CARES-ESSER funds will be subgranted to LEAs based on the Title I-A formula. DC LEA CARES-ESSER allocations are available here. OSSE recognizes that the current situation is impacting all public schools, including those that do not receive Title I-A funds. OSSE is providing CARES Equivalent allocations for LEAs not eligible for Title I funding, including adult and early childhood charter LEAs. This formula funding will be allocated using total 2019-20 school year enrollment as its basis and allows OSSE to support all schools in their response to coronavirus. The US Department of Education supported an amendment to OSSE’s SOAR grant to fund CARES Equivalent allocations.

Eligible LEAs may apply for funds in OSSE’s Enterprise Grants Management System beginning Monday, June 15, 2020 and may use funds for continuing to provide educational services, such as remote learning, while schools and campuses are closed, and developing and implementing plans for the return to normal operations.

The allowable uses of funding are broad and include activities allowable under the following federal programs: Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA), Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), McKinney Vento Homeless Education Act, Carl D. Perkins Act, Adult Education and Family Literacy Act (AEFLA), as well as additional costs prompted by COVID-19 (e.g., sanitation supplies).

Although ESSER funds are distributed to LEAs based on Title I-A allocations, they are not Title I-A funds. ESSER is its own, separate, flexible program intended to support schools’ COVID-19 response. Therefore, Title I-A requirements such as “supplement not supplant” do not apply to ESSER. However, the CARES Act does require the LEA to provide equitable services to students and teachers in nonpublic schools.

State Reserve: Per federal requirements, 10 percent of CARES-ESSER funds may be used for emergency needs as determined by the State education agency (OSSE) to address issues related to COVID-19, which may be addressed through the use of grants or contracts. A maximum of 0.5 percent of this total may be used for administrative costs.

OSSE plans to use these funds for contractual needs to be determined in the 2020-21 school year to support recovery learning in accordance with OSSE’s principles for continuous education.

More information on CARES-ESSER can be found on the US Department of Education’s website.


DC applied for and received $5,807,678 in CARES-GEER funding. DC will be utilizing CARES-GEER to support technology/digital divide, mental health, and school safety in DC schools.

More information on CARES-GEER can be found on the US Department of Education’s website.

CARES-Child Care Development Block Grant (CCDBG) Supplemental Funding

The District received $6,000,400 in CARES-CCDBG funding. Funding will be used to pay for the six emergency child care sites that have been set-up throughout the District, as well as supporting subsidized child care providers with continued payments throughout the public health emergency. OSSE is continuing to examine how we can use the funds to best support non-subsidy providers.


For more information or questions, please contact [email protected].