Using CARES Act Funds For Safer – and Smarter – Schools For Students AND Teachers

Creating Safer and Smarter Schools

School leaders throughout the Kansas City region are faced with a unique situation – an influx of federal funds that are available that must be spent by 2024 and must be used to “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus”. So can CARES Act funds be used to create safer, and smarter, schools?

Two bills, CARES and CRRSA, have established a fund known as the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund” (ESSER) specifically for K–12 school districts to help navigate the challenges presented by the pandemic.

Now while the funds are out there, you still must apply and get approval and that can be daunting as it seems to be a moving target.

But hopefully, this article provides you with some guidance on how to frame your improvements and meet the guidelines for the funding.

On the surface, these funds are available to support upgrades to critical infrastructure within schools, including improvements to HVAC systems and indoor air quality (IAQ), safety and security, and to address the loss of learning.

But the real opportunity is to create network enhancements via structured cabling that create opportunities for districts to save time and money in the daily operation of schools while enhancing the health, safety, and classroom experience for all staff and students moving forward.

So how can these improvements be framed as preventing, preparing for, and responding to coronavirus? Here are a handful of ways…

Prevent, Prepare, and Respond

Safe schools after coronavirus

So much of the health and safety in a school depends on how well it is being taken care of.

Integrating your HVAC system with IAQ sensors will give you data to help monitor, clean, and protect against air contaminants.

The integration of building systems and sensors helps you achieve compliance with an easy-to-use dashboard that saves you time and money by giving you real-time information that you can act on as it relates to air quality throughout your buildings, HVAC efficiency, and the best use of resources to combat any issues.

A healthy school begins with a good filter and ventilation system. The right filtration will not only help remove any unwanted particles or pathogens, but will also save you money in the form of salaries and expenses related to keeping your buildings sanitized on a daily basis.

When the pandemic hit and schools started to reopen, a big expense was in the daily cleaning and sanitizing of spaces throughout your school buildings.

But with efficient air systems in place, all monitored via an easy-to-use dashboard, this all can become a much more efficient, and safe, process for everyone involved.

Your lighting system throughout your buildings can also be integrated with your HVAC and IAQ systems into that easy-to-use dashboard for you and your staff to simply monitor usage, efficiency and to identify cost-savings.

We know that inefficient systems have been a budget drain on schools forever, and the availability of these funds creates a unique opportunity for school leaders to address this critical financial issue.

Security & Contact Tracing

contact tracing and biometrics in schools

A comprehensive access control system is the key to protecting your students and staff while allowing for productivity in every area of your school’s operations.

From biometrics scanning technology to keyless entry that is able to verify authorized personnel at any given time without requiring extra work from your staff, again saving you time and money and security headaches.

Whether just at entry points or placed strategically throughout your buildings, there are all sorts of advanced thermal imaging and infrared camera solutions on the market that can accurately read the body temperatures of multiple people simultaneously.

These systems can achieve an accuracy that is ≤0.54 Degrees F and it only takes seconds for a thermal imaging solution to do its job, freeing you and your staff up to do their job.

And the even better news is that these services come at affordable rates so you won’t break the bank when investing in them as they range between $500-2000 depending on what type of system or camera setup we have going on!

Are you starting to see how these funds can not only “prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus”, but also help you save money in the long term and create an efficient system that controls all of these aspects of your buildings that you and your staff can manage from one easy to use dashboard?

And we haven’t even talked about the classrooms yet. As in the actual educational experience.

There is no doubt that there has been learning loss among students over the course of the pandemic and CARES Act funds provide an opportunity to add critical infrastructure to classrooms to help teachers as they work to find a new classroom normal moving forward.

This infrastructure to take advantage of the emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technology in classrooms and educational experience is absolutely a part of responding to Coronavirus.

And the implications of IoT for the classroom are immense.

How about a classroom or education setting where students’ abilities can be measured in real-time, providing teachers with immediate information to tailor their lessons toward specific student needs?

Not only that but your integrated building systems can be used at the classroom level to measure individual student engagement – in real-time – with immediate feedback for your teachers.

IoT presents a whole new world of opportunities for educators, and while that excites us… those are uses that you are better prepared to address than us.

We are here to help you make sure you have the structured cabling and network infrastructure in place to embrace the unlimited possibilities of education moving forward.

So how can Smart Dog IT help you?

Connected Schools

First, we will come in and assess your current HVAC and air quality efficiency, your access control systems, and your network and infrastructure capabilities to see what you have in place and what might be possible in your building or buildings.

We will then provide a detailed analysis of our findings as it relates to all of the above, and specifically what can be done to enhance the safety of your staff and students while ultimately saving you time and money in the daily operation of your school buildings and enhancing the learning experience moving forward.

And from there, we will work with you to secure approval to implement any improvements we identify as being a practical solution for your current situation.

Please know that there is not a one size fits all fix as schools work to prevent, prepare for, and respond to coronavirus, but using Cares Act funds to create safer – and smarter – schools is certainly possible.

But Smart Dog IT is here to help you work through this challenge and come up with safe and smart building solutions that save you money, keep your staff and students safe, and create new educational opportunities for our kids.

Give us a call today at (913) 660-0707 or fill out the form below to get the conversation started.