COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: ESSER and GEER Funding for LEAs Part 2, Decisions Regarding Promotion or Retention, Operating Schools After Vaccination

By Jacob Perkins

The Kentucky Department of Education (KDE) released three new COVID-19 guidance documents on Feb. 8, one on decisions regarding student promotion or retention, one on operating schools after staff vaccination and another on the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund Two (ESSER II).

The first document, “COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: Decisions Regarding Promotion or Retention,” acknowledges that the period of extended hybrid and/or remote learning resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic presents many challenges not seen in traditional in-person classroom instruction.

For this reason, educators will need to continually assess where student academic knowledge gaps exist in order to design effective Tier 1 instruction and targeted intervention during the pandemic state of emergency, and for some time afterward. The document presents items for local consideration, as well as supporting resources to assist in this work.

The second document, “COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: Operating Schools After Vaccination,” provides information on school operations after staff have received COVID-19 vaccinations.

While widespread vaccination is likely to expedite a return to normalcy, the exponential spread of the COVID-19 virus and new variants will remain a threat to communities for many months.

Districts are encouraged to use this document when considering in-person instruction, remote work and quarantine procedures for faculty and staff.

The final document released on Feb. 8, “COVID-19 Guidance for Schools: Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund II (ESSER II),” provides an overview of the allocable and intended uses of the ESSER Fund for school leaders.

On Dec. 27, 2020, a second ESSER Fund appropriation was authorized by the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act. The act includes the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplement Appropriations, which provides $928,274,720 in additional emergency aid to KDE. Ninety percent of this emergency aid goes to schools and districts to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

As the situation with the pandemic evolves, KDE is creating new guidance documents to meet the needs of Kentucky’s schools and districts. More guidance and resources can be found on KDE’s COVID-19 webpage.