May CARES Act Funds be Used to Purchase Personal Protective Equipment?

Reopening and safely operating schools during the COVID-19 pandemic has posed an unprecedented and ongoing challenge across America. Educators are on the front lines of our national effort to overcome COVID-19.

The Department has received questions about whether CARES Act funding can be used for personal protective equipment (PPE). We want to be clear that recipients of Department CARES Act funds are aware and understand that they may use these funds to pay for the services, equipment, and supplies needed to continue teaching and learning, while keeping students and staff safe from COVID-19.

We want to emphasize that Department CARES Act funds may be used to pay for PPE, cleaning and sanitizing materials, and similar supplies necessary to maintain safe school operations during and after the COVID-19 pandemic.

School districts, schools, and institutions of higher education may use Department CARES Act funds in place of state or local funds for these and other allowable activities—flexibility that does not extend to other Federal education funds in most circumstances. Additionally, state educational agencies are not permitted to limit local uses of ESSER Fund awards to prevent the purchase of PPE.

If recipients of Department CARES Act funds identify an educational need that arose due to COVID-19, or is needed to keep students, teachers, and staff safe, the use of these funds to address that need is allowable.

Thank you, educators across the nation, for your service.