In the wake of the tragic school shootings in Uvalde, Texas, some school leaders have asked whether federal COVID relief funds may be used for school safety purposes.
We are reminded that the U.S. Department of Education previously published this guidance about how ESSER III funds may be used to prevent and respond to crime and promote public safety. School leaders may want to give this guidance a fresh look.
According to the guidance, school districts can use their Federal COVID Relief resources on several strategies to reduce violence and enhance public safety, as described in the guidance. These strategies aim to help students, families, and communities to recover from the pandemic.
Specifically, the guidance suggests that ESSER III funds, as well as ESSER I, ESSER II and GEER funds, may be used to help students and disconnected youth through the following public safety strategies:
- Community violence intervention (CVI) programs;
- Summer and year-round programs that provide job training and work-based learning experience for students, including formerly incarcerated students, and disconnected youth who live in communities most impacted by high levels of violence;
- Summer education and enrichment programs, including summer camp;
- Wraparound services—such as medical care, mental health and substance use disorder care, and nutrition support—for students and their families, including hiring support personnel for schools such as nurses, school counselors, and social workers or expanding full-service community schools;
- Re-engaging students who became disconnected from school during the pandemic to help them transition to career or postsecondary education programs.
Detailed information on each of these strategy options can be found in the guidance. School leaders are advised to read the guidance carefully.