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COVID-19 Relief Funding for K‑12 Schools

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Relief funding overview

With Congress passing bills allocating nearly $300 billion in relief funding to help educational facilities across the U.S. safely reopen and return to in-person learning, it is imperative that these institutions understand what funding is available to them and what school improvement projects could potentially qualify.

Of the $300 billion in funding, the COVID-19 rescue and relief plans dedicate approximately $180 billion of those dollars to K-12 schools specifically for reopening their facilities and improving in-person learning experience for students to compensate for the hardship many faced during the pandemic.

Pie chart of dollars dedicated to K-12
$180 billion
dedicated to K‑12
CARES Act COVID Relief Package American
Rescue Plan
Signed on: March 2020 December 2020 March 2021
Total Funding $30.7 billion $82 billion $168 billion
K‑12 Funding $13.2 billion $54 billion $122 billion

Unlike typical grant programs where schools or school districts must apply for funding that is subject to a lengthy review process based on academics or needs of the district before disbursement, the COVID-19 rescue and relief funds have already been allocated to each state and are available now to be spent and reported on at a later date.

For local schools, the rules still require the development of spending plans and submittal to their state education agency for approval before the money is actually spent. The proposals must include information on mitigation strategies for safe reopening and evidence-based interventions among other things.

How can the funds be used?

While there are not strict guidelines on how the funds may be applied, and accounting for the fact that each state is expected to set their own review process, general parameters dictate that local education agencies must reserve at least 20% to address learning loss as a result of the pandemic. This can include the implementation of evidence-based interventions such as summer learning, extended day, or comprehensive after school programs, as well as any activity authorized by the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965.

School facilities may also use a portion of the funding to initiate repairs and improvements to enable and enhance school operations to reduce the risk of virus transmission and exposure to environmental health hazards, and to support student health needs. See Sec. 2001.e.1 of the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Masked teacher disinfecting school desks

Leveraging relief funding to enhance safe school reopening

There is a wide array of technologies, ranging from existing solutions re-imagined to aid in ensuring a safer learning environment to emerging systems specifically designed to address COVID-19 threats. Of particular interest for consideration at your facilities may be:

  • Contact tracing through robust reporting functions of access control systems integrated with video systems
  • Occupancy management to ensure proper crowd control through IP-video systems layered with analytics software
  • Traffic flow analysis for effective administration of processes and procedures, including heat mapping analytics applied to video systems
  • Real-time visitor management tracking by integrating visitor management software into access control solutions
  • Access control solutions with real-time alerts and extensive reporting to restrict access to sensitive areas of the building
  • Bringing an unused wing of a school into compliance with fire and safety codes to reopen it, and create more space for students to maintain appropriate social distancing
  • Modernizing fire safety technologies and emergency response plans for popular communications tools and managing flow through common pathways

From Carrier webinar: Using ESSER Funds for K-12 IAQ, Safety

Various views of K-12 students entering school

In addition to the direct benefits in the fight against the spread of COVID-19 that these solutions can provide, many of these technologies possess additional features that can help improve the overall operations and safety of your facilities. Depending on your facility’s particular needs, these solutions may or may not fall under the scope of relief funding.

Solutions to consider

Access control and video player icons

Access control and video management solutions

  • Powerful access control solutions and robust video management systems can play a significant role in helping to keep staff and students safe. These valuable combinations can help you effectively manage and understand:
    • Building occupancy levels and muster status
    • Staff, student and visitor tracking
    • Visitor management
    • Social distance monitoring
    • Overall security of your facility
  • Movement tracking and mapping
    • Access control systems can help manage where individuals are within a building and while on campus, tracking their movements throughout the day. Coupled with mapping tools and specialized software, you can:
      • Receive alerts when occupancy of an area within the building exceeds capacity such as auditoriums, classrooms or cafeterias
      • Provide tracking data to identify an infected individual’s movement throughout the campus or their exposure to others
      • Receive comprehensive reports
      • Provide visual documentation of events when tied to video systems
Phone notification icon

Mass notification systems

Mass notification systems allow you to communicate any perceived risks with distinctive sounds and voice instructions to help alert your staff and students to incidents or threats and outline exactly what to do. Voice evacuation paging can help you to provide even more information.

Network equipment icon

Physical security of networks to enhance cybersecurity

Security-only networks are separate from your school’s main network and are specifically designed to host security systems at your locations to help protect sensitive student information. Your ISP circuit can be provided by ADT Commercial and centrally managed by our premier systems analysts at the National Operations Center. Network monitoring includes change requests for approved network devices, as well as switching and security, ISP monitoring, reporting, and auditing services for Meraki devices.

Additional resources available to interpret the legislation

Navigating the different relief plans may, at times, prove to be daunting so additional resources are available to help you better understand the various requirements and opportunities.

The Department of the Treasury icon

The U. S. Department of Treasury provides a comprehensive overview of the COVID-19 Economic Relief programs available.

The Department of the Treasury icon

The Security Industry Association has compiled a list of resources, including applicable technology to help curtail the spread of the virus and a guide on state and local COVID-19 programs and stimulus package summary reports.

The Department of the Treasury icon

To help guide spending, FutureEd has published FAQs, laying out the rules for states to review local plans for spending the ARP money and other relief aid that will flow to school districts.

The Department of the Treasury icon

The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Elementary and Secondary Education has created a website dedicated to tracking, collecting and disseminating data related to the ESF managed by the department

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