Deputy Secretary of Education Cindy Marten opened the May 27 Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative meeting by describing the creativity she's seeing from school districts and their partners as summer learning and enrichment programs open throughout the nation. Dr. Marten emphasized that summer learning needs to be sustainable beyond this summer. She called the collaborative a broad community of practice designed to reopen schools safely, maintain safe operations, and address students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs.
The U.S. Department of Education and the Center for Disease Control (CDC) co-hosted the meeting virtually. They highlighted the release of new guidance and answers to frequently asked questions from schools and summer camp providers on how they can use funding under the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund, including the American Rescue Plan ESSER (ARP ESSER) program, and the Governor's Emergency Education Relief (GEER) Fund to respond to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on students in PreK-12 education.
The FAQs include 78 questions and more than 60 pages of responses and feedback from the field. The guidance provides answers to questions about all use of funds allowable under ESSER and GEER. States, schools, and summer camp providers can find the FAQs and additional resources on the Office of Elementary and Secondary Education web page. Dr. Marten noted three sections that may be of particular interest, including:
- C-25. What kinds of summer programs may ESSER and GEER funds support?
- C-26. May ESSER and GEER funds be used for summer jobs or service-learning programs for high school students?
- C-27. Do Federal procurement requirements permit noncompetitive procurements, if necessary, to enable a SEA or LEA to use ARP ESSER funds to operate a summer enrichment program in 2021?
Erin Sauber-Schatz, head of the CDC's Community Interventions and Critical Populations Task Force, encouraged the audience of State and local teams, their community partners, other education stakeholders, and federally-funded Technical Assistance Centers to utilize the CDC's resources for safe operations in schools and summer camps. She emphasized changes to guidance over time reflect a positive progression during the pandemic. Guidance and tools to help school administrators make informed decisions, protect their students and staff, and communicate with their communities are available online in the CDC's Toolkit for K-12 Schools.
The National Comprehensive Center Network has scheduled additional Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative meetings for 3-5 p.m. on June 10, June 24, July 8, July 22, and August 12. The National Center will archive recordings and summaries of plenary and all tabletop discussions on the Summer Learning and Enrichment Collaborative website.
The next session on June 10 will focus on community safety, procurement, workforce diversity, designing a welcoming site, and high-quality programs for multi-lingual learners. Every state and school district is encouraged to form teams and be collaborative and creative about planning summer programs this summer and in the future.
For more information, contact the Region 5 Comprehensive Center.