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US Department of Education Guidance on ESSER and GEER Funds to Support Multilingual Learners

The Department issued a FAQ document to address implementation issues that have emerged regarding the use of COVID relief funding. The following section addresses EL students:

C-4. How may an LEA use ESSER and GEER funds to support English learners (also referred to as multilingual learners)?

In order to address the needs of English learners, an LEA may use ESSER and GEER funds to address the impact of lost instructional time and services, support culturally responsive instruction, and support family engagement activities.

To address the impact of lost instructional time, an LEA may use ESSER and GEER funds for a variety of activities, including:

  • Extended-day and/or extended-year activities designed to recover lost instructional time as a result of the pandemic, including costs associated with transportation services to support English learners’ access to these services.

  • Providing language accommodations for English learners to increase their access to content, and/or their participation in programs and services.

  • Activities that respond to the social and emotional learning needs of English learners, including professional development for teachers to support English learners—e.g., how to provide a welcoming, nurturing, and supportive learning environment whatever the learning mode; and strategies that increase student collaboration and enhance classroom community.

  • Hire additional bilingual staff (including certified bilingual education teachers) to address the social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs of English learners.

To address and promote culturally responsive practices that leverage the assets of English learners and provide the essential scaffolds and supports, an LEA may use ESSER and GEER funds to provide professional development for staff (including administrators, teachers, guidance counselors, and other student services staff) that is focused on meeting the unique needs of English learners. For example, an LEA may use ESSER and GEER funds to provide professional learning:

  • For content teachers on implementation of strategies to provide meaningful access to the content, to promote English language development, and to offer language accommodations during instruction in a variety of modes;

  • For all teachers on formative assessment strategies to monitor the progress of English learners in content and language instruction;

  • For guidance counselors and student service staff on asset-based scheduling practices that support meaningful access to core content classes;

  • For administrators and teachers on vertical articulation and collaboration practices to support the successful transition of English learners in critical stages such as grades K-1, 5-6, and 8-9;

  • Technology specifically focused on helping English learners access remote instruction or other tools that will help them better access the curriculum and provide enrichment; and

  • PPE that helps facilitate language instruction (i.e., transparent masks).

To address and promote family engagement and dual capacity building for staff and families of English learners, an LEA may use ESSER and GEER funds to provide:

  • Outreach to families of English learners during the COVID-19 pandemic that includes them as partners in education. For example, an LEA might provide support to help parents navigate online platforms, track student progress, and seek help/resources when needed. This may also include using ESSER and GEER funds for translation and interpretation services. The Department’s Fact Sheet: Providing Services to English Learners During the COVID-19 Outbreak is a helpful tool that outlines States’ responsibilities to English learners and their parents.

  • Translation services to assist with communication around the COVID-19 pandemic, for example related to effective prevention and mitigation strategies, test screening, remote learning, and opportunities to address lost instructional time.


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