Guidance on the Education Stabilization Fund and its Implications

To Our School Board Community:
On March 27, 2020, the President signed H.R. 748, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (“CARES”) Act. The Act, among other things, establishes funding for the Education Stabilization Fund, whereby the Secretary will issue grants to each State, which may be used to provide emergency support to local educational agencies. Upon receipt of the funds, the State will distribute them to the local educational agencies deemed to have been most significantly impacted by coronavirus in order to support their ability to continue to provide educational services to their students and to support the on-going functionality of the local educational agency. Of these funds, the Secretary shall make elementary and secondary school emergency relief grants to each State educational agency with an approved application.
An elementary or secondary school that receives funds under the Education Stabilization Fund may use the funds for any of the following:
  1. Any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965;
  2. Coordination of preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies with State and local public health departments, and other relevant agencies, to improve coordinated responses among such entities to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus;
  3. Providing principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools;
  4. Activities to address the unique needs of low-income children or students, children with disabilities, English learners, racial and ethnic minorities, students experiencing homelessness, and foster care youth, including how outreach and service delivery will meet the needs of each population;
  5. Developing and implementing procedures and systems to improve the preparedness and response efforts of local educational agencies;
  6. Training and professional development for staff of the local educational agency on sanitation and minimizing the spread of infectious diseases;
  7. Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency;
  8. Planning for and coordinating during long-term closures, including for how to provide meals to eligible students, how to provide technology for online learning to all students, how to provide guidance for carrying out requirements under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act and how to ensure other educational services can continue to be provided consistent with all Federal, State, and local requirements;
  9. Purchasing educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors, including low-income students and students with disabilities, which may include assistive technology or adaptive equipment;
  10. Providing mental health services and supports;
  11. Planning and implementing activities related to summer learning and supplemental after school programs, including providing classroom instruction or online learning during the summer months and addressing the needs of low-income students, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care;
  12. Other activities that are necessary to maintain the operation of and continuity of services in local educational agencies and continuing to employ existing staff of the local educational agency.
Notably, the Act provides a caveat for local educational agencies who receive funds under the Education Stabilization Fund. Specifically, the Act states:
A local education agency, State, institution of higher education, or other entity that receives funds under “Education Stabilization Fund”, shall to the greatest extent practicable, continue to pay its employees and contractors during the period of any disruptions or closures related to coronavirus.
We believe that this caveat only applies to districts that receive funds under the Education Stabilization Fund. That said, we caution any districts that desire or intend to receive resources under the Education Stabilization Fund to expect to have to pay all employees and contractors during the mandated school closures. This will undoubtedly include contractors who operate school bus services and the like.
This message is not intended to substitute for our legal advice to our clients based on their specific needs or requests. In addition, our guidance is subject to and can be superseded by new laws, rules, regulations, or orders. Moreover, some directives from the Federal and State authorities can appear, and can be, contradictory or in conflict so please contact us for assistance.
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