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BCS details plans for ESSER III funding

Beaufort County Schools recently shared an update on its American Rescue Plan Act ESSER III funding budget, and how that money relates to the district’s plan to return to a normal five-days-per-week, in-person instruction format this fall.

The Elementary and Secondary School Relief fund provides grants to help public school units across the country prepare, prevent and respond to COVID-19. The CARES Act, which was passed in March 2020, provided $13.5 billion to the ESSER fund. The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act, which was passed in December 2020, provided $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding. That is known as the ESSER II fund. The American Rescue Plan Act, which was passed on March 11, provided $122.7 billion in supplemental ESSER funding. That’s known as the ESSER III fund.

ESSER III funds are meant to help schools address learning loss caused by the pandemic, prepare school facilities for reopening, as well as make any necessary repairs or upgrades to improve air quality within those facilities.

BCS applied for and received $17,078,912 in ESSER III funding.

BCS plans to use those funds for the following categories: $9,707,000 to address learning loss; $2,669,000 for educational technology; $486,000 for facility repairs and improvements to minimize virus transmission; $316,000 to improve air quality; $486,000 for coordination of preparedness and response; $243,000 for addressing unique needs of special populations; $48,000 for improving preparedness and response; $49,000 for training to minimize virus transmission; $486,000 for supplies to sanitize and clean; $340,000 for long-term closure activities; $292,000 for mental health services; $1,407,000 for summer learning; and $549,912 for “other ESSA eligible activities, including indirect costs.”

BCS plans to return to a normal schedule when the new school year begins this fall. No virtual academy option will be offered. BCS says a “full continuum” of services such as nutrition and transportation will be provided as they were prior to the outbreak of the pandemic.

“BCS will continue to follow all local, state, and federal directives with regards to the safe and orderly operation of schools in light of the COVID-19 global pandemic, including the latest updates from the NC Public Health Strong Schools Toolkit and any Executive Orders issued by the governor of North Carolina,” the school system said in a document detailing its proposed ESSER III spending.