HARRISBURG, DAUPHIN COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU-TV) — Pennsylvania is expecting to receive $4.9 billion in federal aid to help Pre-K to 12 schools re-open for in-person learning, Governor Tom Wolf announced Monday.

“All schools have been affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and I commend school communities for rising to the challenge to combat the toll it has taken,” said Gov. Wolf. “This extra funding is critical to help schools meet the unique needs of educating students, at this time, while keeping school buildings safe when students return to the classroom.”

The funding is provided by the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ARP ESSER) Fund passed by Congress and signed by President Biden

“Our school communities need these additional resources to invest in instructional materials, equipment, facilities, transportation and more, and we are pleased to make these funds available to them,” said Acting Secretary Noe Ortega. “These funds will provide more assistance to school communities as we continue to navigate the pandemic.”

Of the funding, the Wolf administration says 90 percent of $4.5 billion will go to traditional public school districts and charter schools. The school districts and charter schools must use at least 20 percent of this money to address learning loss and the social, emotional, and academic needs of underrepresented students, including students from low-income families, students with disabilities, English learners, migrant students, students experiencing homelessness, and children in foster care. 

The rest of the funding can be used for other activities such as food service, training, technology, sanitation, after-school programs and mental health support, among other things.

Funds must be used by September 2024. School districts and charter schools must apply to PDE to obtain their allocated funds.

The remaining $500 million will be used by the Department of Education for addressing learning loss, support summer enrichment, and assist schools that do not receive a direct allocation such as career and technical schools and intermediate units.