Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund III Spending Plan

ESSER III Spending Plan

Section 1: Introduction

The purpose of the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) III Fund is to help safely reopen and sustain the safe operation of schools and address the impacts of COVID-19 on the nation’s students by addressing students’ academic, social, emotional, and mental health needs. Fairfax County Public Schools (FCPS) has been awarded $188.8 million in ESSER III funds. This plan describes how the awarded funds will be used. For answers to questions on this grant, contact the ESSER III project team at [email protected].

For more information on the ESSER III grant, please watch this video.


Section 2: Prevention and Mitigation Strategies

ARP Act ESSER III funds may be used to implement prevention and mitigation strategies that are, to the greatest extent practicable, consistent with the most recent Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance on reopening schools, in order to continuously and safely open and operate schools for in-person learning. FCPS will use approximately $1.84 million, or 1 percent, of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to implement prevention and mitigation strategies as described below.

Safety teams will be funded and are responsible for monitoring COVID-19 mitigation strategies in schools. The two main purposes will be to 1) Provide continuous improvement feedback to schools so they can improve on their implementation of mitigation strategies and 2) Provide reliable, valid data that will be critical in ensuring FCPS is implementing the 5 Key CDC Mitigation Strategies with fidelity. External observers will be hired to ensure objectivity. A school health position was also included to support the management of public health related work during the pandemic.

In addition to the above investments, the Coronavirus, Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations (CRRSA) Act ESSER II provided $33.3 million in funding to improve Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) at all FCPS facilities by modifying/replacing HVAC system equipment including enthalpy control to manage humidity and moisture and replacing Building Automation Systems that control all of the HVAC systems within a facility.

Previous investments via the State and County Coronavirus Relief Fund (CRF) provided funding of approximately $13.1 million for personal protective equipment (PPE) which included face masks, face shields, disposable gowns, counter shields, gloves, and thermometers.


Section 3: Addressing Unfinished Learning

Section 2001(e)(1) of the ARP Act requires each Local Education Agency (LEA) to use twenty percent of its formula funds to address the academic impact of lost instructional time (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. FCPS will use approximately $76 million, or 40 percent, of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to address unfinished learning as described below.

FCPS may provide academic intervention services to students using multiple platforms such as tutoring, after-school programs including transportation, enhanced summer learning programs, and additional English for Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) teachers. There will also be funding for compensatory services for our special education students.

Schools will also be provided with stipends for academic leads to provide trainings and guidance practices within their schools. Funding will also be used for allocations to schools based on a formula (size, free and reduced-price meals, English learners, special education, and achievement). These funds may be used to directly support student learning loss via tutoring (in-house and/or external), by providing hourly teacher funds for tutoring, professional development for staff related to tutoring, materials/programs to support tutoring, and additional collaborative team time to plan for instruction.


Section 4: Other Uses of Funds

Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act permits school divisions to use the ARP Act ESSER III funding not reserved to address unfinished learning to address the impacts of COVID-19 in a variety of ways. FCPS will use approximately $32.1 million, or 17 percent, of its ARP Act ESSER III funds in accordance with Section 2001(e) of the ARP Act as described below.

FCPS will use a portion of funding to expand the use of cloud-based software services, Virtual Private Networks, virtual desktops, and remotely managed services. These technologies come with cybersecurity threats that can result in loss of student information or loss of services in the event of a coordinated cyberattack. Funds will be used to staff projects to implement critical controls which will improve our overall cybersecurity posture.

In addition to the above, funding will also be used for additional video conferencing licenses and to increase bandwidth. There is an increased number of devices in schools, therefore, the demand for reliable and resilient connectivity within school buildings is essential for student success. These upgrades from this funding will be directed towards improving wireless connectivity to the latest industry standards inside schools by replacing aging wireless equipment. Also, the funds will be used to improve the overall internal network capacity and availability within school buildings through cabling and switching equipment upgrades. New equipment will increase the amount of overall bandwidth and efficiency within school buildings and provide IT staff with better management capabilities through user analytics and performance metrics data. 

FCPS will also provide multilingual engagement communicators, translators, translator services, investments in translation software to ensure information is accessible to all families, address bus driver shortages through competitive entry level wages and provide incentives for bus drivers for additional runs, as well as hourly funding for classroom, outdoor, and dining monitors, and substitutes. In addition, a project management team and grants administration team will be included in the grant to ensure programmatic, reporting, financial, and compliance requirements are met.


Section 5: Addressing Students’ Academic, Social, Emotional, and Mental Health Needs

FCPS will use approximately $78.8 million, or 42 percent, of its ARP Act ESSER III funds to ensure our schools are welcoming and culturally responsive to all students and families. This requires self-reflection, professional development, and intentional action. Therefore, FCPS will use funding to support equity professional development for school teams, and social-emotional staff to work directly with departments and school-based teams. Schools will also be provided with stipends for intervention and support leads to work directly with school staff and building leadership to coordinate the intervention and support within their schools, as well as extending special education teacher contracts. School-based teams will also support the wellness pillars of multi-tiered systems of support (MTSS) as well as provide ongoing professional development and guide practice within school teams. Funding will also be used for allocations to schools based on a formula (size, free and reduced-price meals, English learners, special education, mobility, chronic absenteeism, homeless/foster care, and screener data). These funds will be used to directly support student social emotional needs.


Section 6: Consultation with Stakeholders and Opportunity for Public Comment

In developing the ARP ESSER III plan, FCPS conducted consultations in the following ways:

  • A community online feedback form was launched on May 21 and was open for three weeks to solicit input from constituents on how they support FCPS’ use of funds. These constituents included students, families, community members, school and district administrators (including special education administrators), teachers, principals, school leaders, other educators, school staff, and their unions. As part of the survey, participants were asked to provide information on what stakeholder group they represented, such as civil rights organizations (including disability rights organizations); and stakeholders representing the interests of children with disabilities, English learners, children experiencing homelessness, children in foster care, migratory students, children who are incarcerated, and other underserved students. The survey was advertised through community newsletters and social media platforms, was ADA compliant and was available in eight of our most common languages: Amharic, Arabic, Chinese, Farsi, Korean, Spanish, Urdu, and Vietnamese. In addition to those languages FCPS provided an option for additional language translation if necessary.
  • Three focus groups were held on May 25, May 27, and June 10 with community members. Focus group invitations were sent to a comprehensive list of organizations compiled with the assistance of Fairfax County Government (Neighborhood and Community Services), the FCPS Office of Professional Learning and Family Engagement, the Office of Communication and Community Relations, and nonprofit and community organizations. The community members who attended those meetings represented special education children, children in foster care, English learners, children who are incarcerated, children with disabilities, children experiencing homelessness, and other underserved students.
  • The School Board held a public hearing specific to the ESSER III spending plan on June 7.


Section 7: Making the Plan Available to the Public

FCPS has taken the following steps to make this plan available to the public:

  • An update was presented to the School Board at a February 22, 2022, work session.  Watch video recording.   
  • The School Board voted to approve the plan for submission to VDOE at a regularly scheduled meeting on August 26, 2021.
  • A School Board Work Session was held to discuss the plan on August 24, 2021.
  • The revised plan was presented to the School Board and approved by the School Board at a regularly scheduled meeting on July 15, 2021.
  • The plan was presented to the School Board at a July 13, 2021, work session.
  • The Return to School Plan is posted at: https://www.fcps.edu/returntoschool;
  • The plan is available in other languages by using the orange translation buttons at the top of the web page.  This service is through "machine translation" using Google Translate.
  • The plan may be orally translated for parents. Contact the Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200 to request translation; and
  • Upon request, a parent who is an individual with a disability as defined by the ADA may be provided with the plan in an alternative format accessible by contacting the Office of Communication and Community Relations at 571-423-1200.

ESSER III Administration

Evangeline Petrich, serves as the Executive Principal for ESSER III Administration. Dr. Petrich supports the division’s implementation of ESSER III project by planning, managing, and coordinating activities related to implementation of academic and wellness supports in schools using the Multi-tiered Systems of Support framework. She will ensure that all schools have the supports necessary to maximize the use of ESSER III funding to directly support students’ academic and wellness needs. Dr. Petrich will work closely with Region leadership and Central Office departments to provide direction and support to schools in developing, implementing, and monitoring the progress of school-based student academic and wellness support plans. 

Dr. Petrich is an accomplished and dedicated educator with 27 years of progressive experience teaching students and leading adults in diverse settings.  She is a skilled instructional leader with strong organizational, team building, and supervisory skills with tremendous attention to details and follow-through.  Having served since 2012 as the Cluster Director/and Executive Principal in Cluster 4 and Regions 1 and 3, Dr. Petrich has served for the last five years as the as the Executive Principal for Region 3 with an emphasis on School Improvement. She brings a wealth of experience to support principals and schools with school improvement leadership and training, interventions, increased achievement, and opportunity for all students and eliminating achievement gaps.  Prior to her work in FCPS, Dr. Petrich worked in Virginia Beach City Public Schools as a Principal, Assistant Principal, Technology Academy Coordinator, Instructional Technology Coordinator and Mathematics Teacher.