The CARES Act, signed into law on March 27, 2020, provides economic stimulus to individuals, businesses, hospitals, and Local Educational Agencies (LEAs) in response to the economic distress caused by the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Division B, Title VIII, of the CARES Act is named “Education Stabilization” and appropriates funds through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Program and the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) program. GEER funds were given to the Governor for distribution. The Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) will administer ESSER funds.
DPI’s plan for $174 million in ESSER funding was approved by Wisconsin’s Legislative Joint Finance Committee on May 13, 2020, and approved by the United States Department of Education (USDE) on May 20, 2020.
The plan includes a four-pronged approach to providing direct, immediate, and comprehensive relief to LEAs.
- Providing grants to LEAs—More than 90 percent of the state’s ESSER funds will be directly awarded to LEAs. No LEA will receive less than $40,000.
- Building capacity for, and expanding access to, high-quality online instructional resources. More information will be coming soon.
- Providing training for educators in the provision of online and remote instruction. More information will be coming soon.
- Expanding and building capacity of school staff to provide mental health services, to better support students. More information will be coming soon.
- Plan Approval from Wisconsin’s Joint Finance Committee
- Wisconsin's Approved Application for ESSER Funds
The CARES Act also allowed USDE to waive some requirements of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) for LEAs. The list of the federal requirements waived pursuant to the CARES Act and what these waivers mean for LEAs is available in the document below.