FAQs on Stimulus Funds and Learning Loss


The stimulus legislation refers to “Learning Loss.” What does that mean?

“Learning Loss” is a broad term referring to the pandemic’s effect on school-age students due to:

  • Lost learning time due to school closures, abbreviated class schedules, or intermittent access to devices and internet connectivity

  • Loss of access to community resources

  • Decreased student engagement and/or increased absenteeism

  • Social-emotional needs due to increased stress, food, and housing insecurity, family loss, etc

States have developed varying terminology for their “learning loss” initiatives, including Resilience and Recovery Support, Unfinished Learning, Learning Acceleration, Addressing the COVID Slide.

How can stimulus funds address Learning Loss?

The CRRSA legislation added “Addressing learning loss among students” to the allowable use of ESSER funds. The gray row of the table below is legislative language outlining examples for use of funds:

The American Recovery Plan requires that districts use at least 20% of their ESSER-III funds to address learning loss through the implementation of evidence-based interventions, such as summer learning or summer enrichment, extended day, comprehensive afterschool programs, or extended school year programs.

Districts should pay attention to their state’s directives around learning loss. For example, some states (ex: Washington and Ohio) are requiring districts to submit a Learning Loss Plan. Utah’s legislature is requiring all ESSER-II funding to be spent on mitigating learning loss. Other states are emphasizing 1-to-1 tutoring or extending the school year.

Find more information on Savvas programs to address unfinished learning

Can stimulus funds purchase textbooks or only digital licenses?

Both are allowed. To aid the academic recovery, districts need high-quality instructional materials to create coherence and offer consistency whether students are learning remotely at-home or in-person.

Digital licenses: One of the allowable uses of ESSER funds is “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.”

Textbooks: At least three states’ ESSER guidance clarifies that high-quality instructional materials are an allowable use of stimulus funds: Nebraska, Idaho, and Mississippi

Download our Guide to Federal COVID-19 Relief Bills for K-12 Education

Read more tips and information from Director of Funding Grace Stopani:

Note: Fresh Ideas for Teaching blog contributors have been compensated for sharing personal teaching experiences on our blog. The views and opinions expressed in this blog are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of any other agency, organization, employer or company.


About the Author

Grace Stopani

Director, Funding