ESSER Communication Strategies

The federal pandemic recovery resources known as the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) funds provide Colorado school districts with a historic opportunity to invest in strategies that will support students, families, and educators in responding to the pandemic, accelerating recovery efforts, and promoting student success. ESSER funds were provided to states – and from states to school districts primarily based on the Title I funding process – in three allocations:

  • ESSER I: The Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) — frequently used to address the immediate crisis
  • ESSER II: The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) — frequently used to provide stability and manage the health crisis
  • ARP ESSER III: The American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act — frequently used to assist in recovery and acceleration of learning

School districts across Colorado are working hard to deploy these resources with fidelity to the specific needs of their communities. The decision on how to spend federal pandemic recovery resources is inherently and intentionally local as school communities are best equipped to identify and address their most urgent local needs. The Colorado School Finance Project is supporting these vital efforts by helping school districts communicate with students, families, and their communities about the opportunities available because of ESSER funding.

This ESSER Communications strategies document is designed to provide ready-made tools to help school districts effectively communicate with their key audiences – from parents to staff to the general public and media. These resources include:

Tactical tips to maximize communication opportunities
Press release templates for announcements and key moments in the school calendar
Newsletter and blog post templates to highlight important initiatives and updates
Talking point templates for interviews such as radio segments and podcasts
Website templates to post more detailed content for the school community
Sample Tweets to elevate key messaging on social media

Together, these resources can help ease communication efforts and help school districts achieve their highest priorities. Click on your investment priority below to access resources for that investment.

1. Creating Safe & Healthy Learning Environment

  • Providing school meals
  • Food distribution
  • School nutrition staff
  • School nurses
  • Transportation staff
  • Implementation of effective layered strategies for preventing the transmission of COVID-19
  • Cleaning and disinfecting, contact tracing, handwashing and sanitizing stations, HVAC systems to allow for ventilation, outdoor classrooms, masks, vaccination promotion, etc.
  • Bus purchases

2. Addressing Disrupted Learning Time

  • In-school acceleration
  • Tutoring programs
  • Out-of-school time programs
  • Summer learning and enrichment
  • Professional development in new instructional strategies
  • Assessments / Diagnostic and formative
  • Collaboration time for teachers
  • Expanded day, week, or year
  • Support postsecondary education transition
  • High-speed broadband
  • Devices
  • Accessible technology
  • Professional development for educators
  • Websites and documents are compatible with screen reader software
  • Leveraging technology for IEP Team meetings
  • Assistive technology devices 
  • Parent Portals
  • Disaggregate any new data
  • Conduct an initial assessment of student access to learning opportunities
  • Establish early warning indicator (EWI) systems to promote targeted engagement strategies and recovery planning
  • Collect data on the successful transitions of students from preschool into K-12
  • Assess current processes for determining who has access to advanced courses
  • Funding distribution based on student needs
  • Eliminating barriers to accessing available opportunities
  • ​Proactive approaches to encourage student participation

3. Meeting Mental Health Needs for Students & Staff

  • School counselors
  • Psychologists
  • Social workers
  • SEL frameworksServices — Counseling, Physiological, Social Work
  • Professional development
  • SEL / Cultural relevance / Trauma-informed
  • MTSS / Positive behavior interventions and supports
  • Mental health first aid
  • Mental health screenings / Procedures for referral 

4. Supporting Educator & Staff Stability and Well-Being

  • Extend the reach of effective teachers
  • Increase availability of qualified adults to support educators, students, and staff
    • Teaching candidates, recently retired educators, non-instructional staff who can identify and support students who are highly mobile or chronically absent
  • Build and maintain a cadre of high-quality substitute teachers
  • Implement flexible and creative scheduling
  • Use targeted incentives/stipends/hazard pay
  • Offer relevant, flexible professional learning
  • Providing loan forgiveness, grants, or service scholarship programs
  • Teacher residency programs
  • Professional development programs and mentoring models for newer teachers
  • School leader-to-educator support systems
  • Staff climate and morale surveys
  • Educator mentoring programs
  • Blackout times for email communication and boundaries for meeting times
  • “Buddy” system to build peer-to-peer support systems
  • Affinity groups for teachers of color and early career teachers
  • Considerations for educator workloads
  • District and school mental health supports
  • Adult wellness programs

Find detailed information on your school district’s ESSER investment priorities here.

Learn more about Using ESSER I to Build a Broader Positive Narrative.