The COVID Relief Bill — What It Means for K-12 & Higher Education
As the coronavirus pandemic continues to impact the way we live, work, and learn, educational organizations in the United States have had to adapt to an entirely new way of conducting school. Remote education has become a priority for many organizations as schools struggle with providing learning in a socially distanced, safe environment. At the same time, teachers must grapple with new technology that allows them to reach — and teach — students while they remain at home.
Now that more people are receiving the COVID-19 vaccines, many schools are considering a return to school policy that will bring students back into the classroom after more than a year of remote learning.
To aid schools in reopening safely so that teachers can return to work and students to school, the U.S. government has earmarked funds for K-12 schools and universities through the Covid Relief Package and American Rescue Plan.
Understanding the COVID Relief Bill — and How to Make it Work for Your School
American Rescue Plan funds totaling $81 billion — about two-thirds of the money available in total — were made available to states on March 24, 2021, in support of safe reopening, closing of equity gaps among students, and providing for student needs.
States have two months to share money with their districts and they must submit plans to the Education Department to receive the remaining third of the funds available. Districts must spend at least 20% of the money they receive addressing learning loss — and they must make a public plan for safe school reopening.
Private K-12 schools will receive $2.75 billion, and universities have $40 billion in stimulus funds to use to support higher learning.
In summary, your school can use these funds to support student needs and to create and deploy a plan the provides for a safe reopening of your learning facility. The following ideas represent a collection of actionable ways your organization can use these monies to jumpstart academic resilience; keep students and teachers safer; and create a secure, organized environment for learning.
Planning on a Safe Reopening
Reopening safely to allow teachers and students to return to school is a primary objective for most organizations, particularly as they begin to plan for the upcoming semesters. To help, the Education Department has released a handbook that outlines best practices schools can use to facilitate reopening. Suggestions include practicing safe social distancing, wearing Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) such as masks, and keeping an eye on symptoms.
Schools can help ensure these practices are followed by:
- Using temperature scanning kiosks at entry points to ensure acceptable temperature thresholds are met and scan for proper facial coverings
- Supplying PPE such as masks, sanitizers, and plastic barriers
- Using highly visible signage, banners, and floor decals to control foot traffic and encourage social distancing
- Provide digital lockers for contactless delivery of schools supplies for K-12 or mail and packages for university students
Using some — or all — of these tools can help students and teachers work and learn safely.
Amplifying Learning and Helping Students Stay Ahead
Students coming back to an in-person learning situation will need access to innovative tools that can hold their attention and amplify their ability to learn and retain the material. New technologies such as innovative interactive whiteboards allow students to communicate — even with other classes — without leaving their classroom. Even field trips can be conducted in brilliant HD color, offering students enriching experiences from the safety of a classroom.
Audio visual equipment, projectors, and other tools can further amplify learning and help students used to using digital interfaces to feel at home in the classroom.
Finally, schools can take advantage of leading-edge software solutions such as document management systems to properly secure, store, and distribute the wide range of paper resources necessary to keep classes moving forward.
Look to RJ Young for Your School Re-Opening Needs
At RJ Young, we understand the needs and challenges of our clients in the education industry. That’s why we have curated a specific suite of tools to help you take advantage of available government funding for education.
Our resources specifically target the government’s guidelines for use of funds in the American Rescue Plan and other COVID-related monies so you can be certain your organization qualifies for the highest level of funding. Download our Resource Guide to learn more on how we can help transition to a modern classroom.
COVID relief funding helps schools get the resources they need for a safe school reopening. Now let us help your school get the tools you need most by touching base with an RJ Young consultant today.