School closures due to the COVID-19 crisis have magnified the significant inequities within schools and communities that create barriers to learning for too many students. The ESSER fund awards schools and districts $13 billion to help address some of the unprecedented challenges facing school leaders, educators, parents, and families. The National Education Association urges our affiliates and members to advocate that federal funding be used to advance equity, close opportunity gaps for vulnerable students, and protect the educator workforce.

Target Funds. Advocate that COVID-19 funds be used to meet the unique academic and social and emotional needs of students attending underresourced schools, students with disabilities, English learners, students of color, foster care youth, students experiencing homelessness, and students engaged in the juvenile justice system to ensure that they have the resources they need to thrive and succeed.

Make a Plan. Demand a seat at the table during the development and implementation of plans related to COVID-19. Educators are the most familiar with student needs and must be involved in plans to close and reopen schools.

Be Transparent. Ensure that all local educational agencies receiving funds distribute them equitably and share publicly how schools within their boundaries are spending their funding allocations.

Guarantee Opportunity. Ensure all students have equitable access to learning opportunities during and after school closures, such as high-quality instructional materials, compensatory services for students with disabilities, and access to technology and broadband.

Guarantee Equity. Address structural racism and inequality issues that have long existed in the public education system; and ensure that the full range of student needs are met, particularly students with disabilities, students of color, and English language learners. Student services should include social and emotional supports and nutrition.

Support Quality Educators. Ensure that there is dedicated funding to retain and support all educators including teachers, administrators, education support professionals, specialized instructional support personnel, librarians, and higher education professionals during school closures and when schools reopen.

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