In accordance with the American Rescue Plan Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund, local educational agencies accepting ARP-ESSER funding are required to update the Safe Return Plan for the continued safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services for all schools. They must also post updated plans on LEA websites as required by ARP Act section 2001(i)(1).

An advisory from the New Jersey Department of Education notes that these plans serve as local guidelines for instructional and non-instructional school activities throughout the entire ARP-ESSER project period, LEAs are required to update plans periodically, but no less than every six months through Sept. 20, 2024. Plans also are to be updated whenever there are significant changes to Centers for Disease Control recommendations for K-12 schools. As with the initial plan, all revisions must be informed by community input and approved by a district’s board of education prior to posting it on the district’s website.

Actions Required

Local educational agencies must submit an updated Safe Return Plan encompassing all schools in the LEA. Safe Return Plans can be amended by logging into the NJDOE’s Electronic Web-Enabled Grant system through the NJDOE Homeroom webpage, selecting the “GMS Access/Select” link found on the main menu screen, and completing the following steps:

  • At the top left side of the page, select “fiscal year 2022” from the drop-down list.
  • On the “ARP Safe Return Plan” line, click the “amend” button.
  • Enter the required information in each tab.
  • Run the consistency check to identify any errors or omissions.
  • Submit the report to the NJDOE.

If you have questions concerning the completion and submission of the ARP-ESSER Safe Return Plan, contact the NJDOE Office of Grants Management at 609-376-9089 or the ESSER Help Desk via email.