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ESSER Grants: OSSE Policy and Guidance

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) grants provide funding to the District of Columbia state education agency (SEA) and local education agencies (LEAs) as they prepare for, respond to and address the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on students, families and educators. ESSER grants are administered by the Office of the State Superintendent of Education (OSSE) to support LEAs in expeditiously returning to in-person learning, addressing learning loss through evidence-based interventions, and creating a safe and healthy learning environment for students.

The District of Columbia received more than $600 million is ESSER funding and OSSE currently administers $540 million in funding to 48 grantees. As the administrator of ESSER funding for the District, OSSE manages ESSER grants to local education agencies (LEAS), monitors grant recipients and reports annual state-level ESSER data to USED.

OSSE has published the following resources to support LEAs in understanding how they may use ESSER funding and how to meet grant requirements:

OSSE has also shared the following announcements and updates related to the ESSER grant requirements:

Minimum 20 Percent Reservation for Addressing Learning Loss through Evidence-Based Interventions

LEAs are federally required to use at least 20 percent of their overall ESSER III-ARP allocation to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions that respond to students’ academic needs as well as social and emotional needs. LEAs must also ensure that these evidence-based interventions address the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on underrepresented student subgroups. OSSE requires LEAs to report evidence-based interventions each year in their EGMS applications using the ESSER III-ARP Evidence-Based Application form.

LEA ESSER III-ARP Requirement - Safe Return to In-Person and Use of Funds Plan

LEAs that receive an ESSER III-ARP grant are required to make publicly available on their website a plan that addresses how the LEA will ensure the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services as well as a plan for how the LEA intends to use ESSER III-ARP funds. These requirements are met through LEAs’ Continuous Education Plans (CEP) from 2020-21, 2021-22 and 2022-23 school years, which LEAs should post publicly on their websites.

LEAs must also update their CEP every six months after the date of OSSE approval. These interim updates will not be submitted for OSSE approval. OSSE suggests LEAs include “as of” dates on their plan and/or website to clearly state when the most recent plan update was made.

Maintenance of Equity

The ESSER III-ARP grant includes a Maintenance of Equity (MOEquity) provision to ensure that LEAs, schools, and students that already experience opportunity gaps are not disproportionately impacted by any funding reductions that might result from the COVID-19 pandemic. For additional details, visit OSSE’s Maintenance of Equity – ESSER III-ARP webpage.


LEAs that wish to use ESSER grants for construction purposes must complete a concept proposal form and sign assurances through OSSE. For more information about how to include construction in an ESSER application, please view OSSE’s ESSER Construction Webinar.

OSSE’s ESSER III-ARP State Plan (approved July 7, 2021)

To receive their full ESSER III-ARP award, SEAs were required to submit a plan to USED. OSSE’s final approved plan, along with the approved plans from all other states, are posted publicly on this USED website.

Additional ESSER Information

For additional information about ESSER, please select the links below.


Contact Us

For questions about ESSER, please email [email protected].

ESSER grants are administered by OSSE’s Office of Federal Grants and Strategic Funding within the Division of Systems and Supports, K-12.

[Nov. 16, 2022]