How to Use COVID Relief Aid to Keep Students Safe and Improve Learning

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Since March 2020, federal lawmakers have passed 3 COVID-19 stimulus bills that provide more than $190 billion in emergency relief funding for K-12 schools. The U.S. Department of Education has developed the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund to distribute this funds to schools.

States acquire this funding from the federal government primarily based on the proportion that every single state receives beneath Title 1, Part A of the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. In turn, states should distribute at least 90% of the funding to regional college systems primarily based on every single district’s share of Title I funding. States can set aside 10% of the funds to use for emergency educational demands associated to the pandemic.

What Can ESSER Funds Be Used For?

There are 3 distinct pools of ESSER funding, every single created offered by a distinct piece of legislation:

  • The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act, passed on March 27, 2020, offered $13.5 billion to the ESSER Fund
  • The Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), passed on Dec. 27, 2020, offered $54.3 billion in supplemental ESSER funding, recognized as the ESSER II fund
  • The American Rescue Plan Act, passed on March 11, 2021, offered $122.8 billion in further ESSER funding, recognized as the ESSER III fund

Funds can be used to cover a wide variety of costs associated to stopping, preparing for, and responding to COVID-19. These consist of, but are not restricted to:

  • Providing supplemental studying possibilities for students
  • Providing mental wellness services and supports.
  • Purchasing educational gear, technologies, cleaning supplies, and PPE
  • Addressing the one of a kind demands of disadvantaged populations
  • Filling gaps of unfinished studying
  • Preparing schools for reopening
  • Testing, repairing, and upgrading buildings to increase air high-quality

Funding might be applied for new purchases, as effectively as to reimburse college systems for pre-award expenses dating back to March 13, 2020, when the national emergency was declared. School systems should use at least 20% of the ESSER III funding they acquire to address student studying loss.

FAQs About ESSER Funding

How do college districts access ESSER funds?

School districts should apply to their relevant state education agency for funding. Every state should use at least 90% of its ESSER funds to make subgrants to regional college systems by formula primarily based on FY 2019 Title I, Part A allocations.

What is the timeline for applying ESSER funds?

States should award ESSER funding inside a single year of getting it from the federal government. In turn, regional college systems have till Sept. 30, 2022 to invest original ESSER funding. They have till Sept. 30, 2023 to invest ESSER II funding, and they have till Sept. 30, 2024 to invest ESSER III funding.

Are ESSER funds a supplement to a college system’s Title I, Part A grant award?

No. The ESSER Fund is a separate federal plan. Although college districts acquire ESSER funds by means of the Title I, Part A formula, these funds should be awarded and tracked separately from Title I, Part A funds. Although ESSER funds can be applied for allowable Title I activities, they are not topic to Title I specifications.

Getting the Most Impact from ESSER Funding

There are lots of techniques that college districts can opt for to invest ESSER funding. Here are 4 higher-influence tactics in specific.

1. Designing versatile studying environments

Replacing the regular desks, tables, and chairs in classrooms with agile, modular furnishings that can quickly be moved about the area and configured in a assortment of techniques serves lots of purposes. For instance:

  • It can assist educators rapidly make secure, socially distanced studying environments with minimal work.
  • It facilitates a wide variety of studying modalities, enabling teachers to shift seamlessly amongst complete group, tiny group, and person instruction. This aids teachers differentiate instruction and provide targeted intervention to offset COVID-associated unfinished studying.
  • It supports a broad variety of studying activities, which includes active and collaborative studying applying a assortment of group sizes. Research shows that active studying is a more engaging and successful leaning method.
How School Specialty can assist:

Using mobile and versatile furnishings, such as NeoRok, NeoSync, and NeoRyde seating from Classroom Select, enables educators to make hugely adaptable studying spaces that are appropriate for any want or objective.

2. Supporting students’ social-emotional demands

COVID-19 has had a profound impact on students’ social and emotional well-being, resulting in feelings of anxiousness, loneliness, grief, or trauma for lots of students. The American Psychological Association advises that youth who have skilled TRACEs+ (Traumatic and Adverse Childhood Experiences), want college-primarily based intervention to guide them toward resilience. During the pandemic, students who have been currently exposed to early childhood trauma might have elevated adverse effects that want to be addressed. Even students who have been not initially exposed to trauma might really feel distress, anxiousness, or grief just after living via COVID-19.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network has issued guidance on how educators can assist students cope emotionally through the pandemic, and the American Occupational Therapy Association has put out recommendations as effectively. One strategy is to assist students find out self-regulation tactics for dealing with these feelings devoid of becoming overwhelmed.

For instance, mindfulness workout routines such as meditation, visualization, or deep breathing can assist students calm themselves, so they’re more ready to find out. Spending time in a sensory area might also assist students handle their feelings.

A calming sensory area provides a quiet space to regroup, which could assist students handle their responses to tension or anxiousness. A sensorimotor space, or “wiggle room,” offers possibilities for gross motor movement. It’s an active space exactly where students are encouraged to move, play, and discover applying a assortment of sensory activities, which includes possibilities for vestibular input (movement), tactile input (touch), and proprioceptive input (deep touch stress and heavy work).

While all students want to move all through the college day, these with specific sensory processing challenges or difficulty self-regulating want to move more frequently—and research supports the notion that frequent movement could assist them focus and handle their feelings more successfully, major to improved studying. Allowing students to use some of these tactics inside the common education classroom encourages them to apply these self-regulation tactics in other settings.

How School Specialty can assist:

From bubble tubes, sensory seating options, fidget tools, and snuggle wraps to bouldering boards, ball chambers and foam rolling pins, School Specialty has what ever schools want to make a calming sensory area or a wiggle area. Educators can locate tips for designing and equipping each kinds of sensory rooms here.

3. Cleaning and disinfecting college environments more successfully

Currently, the most well known tactics employed by schools are disinfecting surfaces with chemical sprays and applying low-rated MERV filters to purify the air that men and women breathe. Yet, each techniques have shortcomings that could place students and employees at threat.

Although the chemical sprays that schools are applying are EPA-authorized, they could nevertheless pose wellness dangers, specifically for men and women who have asthma, allergies, or other respiratory troubles. No a single truly knows the lengthy-term wellness effects of spraying highly effective chemical substances so often inside enclosed spaces that could have poor ventilation, specifically when these spaces are applied for hours at a time by young children. Air filters, meanwhile, should be replaced periodically as advised by the manufacturer. Changing them often calls for a lot of time, funds, and discipline.

To clean and disinfect studying spaces more successfully, K-12 leaders can find out a lot from hospitals and other sterile environments. These entities have been applying technologies such as photocatalytic oxidation (PCO) and ultraviolet germicidal irradiation (UVGI), which entails the secure and accountable use of ultraviolet-C (UVC) light rays, to eliminate dangerous microbials each on surfaces and in the air for years—and these strategies are proving to be successful in destroying COVID-19 as effectively.

How School Specialty can assist:

School Specialty has partnered with choose companies to supply safer and more successful disinfecting solutions for schools. Solutions for disinfecting supplies in a classroom consist of UVC cabinets like the UV Tech Tub from Copernicus Educational Products, which makes use of UVGI lamps to kill viruses and other germs in beneath two minutes—allowing educators to disinfect studying supplies through class and amongst periods, so the next class of students can use them safely.

Solutions for air filtration and disinfecting of classrooms consist of area air purifiers and even UVC robots. For instance, the TRIO Plus Portable Air Purifier from Field Controls combines HEPA filtration, UVC lamps, and PCO air purification in a single, lightweight, transportable unit that is incredibly quiet. It can clean the air in a standard classroom of 775 square feet 3 occasions each hour. ADIBOT UVC robots from UBTECH use UVGI lamps mounted to a tiny, cart-sized apparatus to irradiate the air and surfaces inside a classroom when it is not in use. The robots can irradiate an complete classroom in much less than 3 minutes.

Solutions for air filtration and disinfection all through an complete college web site consist of the Field Controls Cube and Duo line of goods, which are installed inside a building’s Air Handling Unit (AHU), HVAC program, and/or ventilation duct work.

4. Addressing unfinished studying with supplemental at-house studying

After a year of college closings and remote studying, more than half of public K-12 teachers mentioned the pandemic resulted in a “significant” unfinished studying for students, according to a report by Horace Mann.

Nearly all educators—more than 97%— reported seeing some unfinished studying in their students more than the previous year when compared with young children in prior years, and 57% estimated their students are behind by more than 3 months in their social emotional progress.

One strategy to make up for this unfinished studying is to provide supplemental at-house studying tools for students to continue their studying just after college hours. This at-house assistance can be on the internet studying possibilities that assistance summer time studying. These can be in addition to in college instruction.

Activities that address the one of a kind demands of low-revenue, homeless, English learners, and young children in foster care are supported in this funding also. These outreach activities should address these demands.

How School Specialty can assist:

School Specialty has place collectively a specific collection of supplemental supplies and activities that can assistance the one of a kind demands of these learners. Educators can locate tips and sources to share with parents by age, topic, and want here. Additionally, we have educational specialists offered to help you in brainstorming the ideal way tomeet the one of a kind demands of your students. We can help you each in the classroom and with at-house tactics.

A Unique Opportunity

The almost $200 billion in federal COVID relief help for K-12 education represents a one of a kind chance for leaders to make intelligent investments that will have lengthy-term impacts in their schools. As education specialists committed to the accomplishment of your schools and students, School Specialty can assist you invest federal funds exactly where they matter most and will have the greatest impact.

Funding is an massive step toward attaining secure schools and productive studying. But the next methods are just as critical—finding the proper companion to connect you with the ideal options for leveraging this funds successfully. Count on School Specialty to supply the sources and knowledge you want as you ascertain how to make the most of your funding. School Specialty will work side by side with districts to assist leverage funds with your district targets. We are right here to assist.

Student by student, want by want … collectively, we can turn your funding into options. Let’s get began today.

To find out more about how School Specialty can assist with these vital choices, get in touch with your School Specialty representative.

Dr. Sue Ann Highland

Dr. Sue Ann Highland is the National Education Strategist for School Specialty. As an Education Strategist, she makes use of her knowledge in educational initiatives and administrative leadership to assist teachers and leaders to transform teaching and studying.

In addition to her work at School Specialty, Highland has also served as a transform and improvement consultant to more than lots of Colorado small business and educational institutions given that 2004. In this capacity, she enhanced personnel overall performance, streamlined organizational operations and introduced course of action improvements that improve productivity for organizations and schools. She also has quite a few years encounter in managing a group that transforms studying environments for districts.

Highland derives her knowledge from more than 25 years in education, with half of these years in rural districts. She has worked as an Organizational Development Director, an elementary college principal and a college district’s Director of Federal Programs, Curriculum and Instruction. In these positions, Highland was accountable for expert improvement and every day management as effectively as for major initiatives and evaluating employees overall performance and outcomes. She specializes in improvement, turn about, and transform management.

Highland received a Master of Arts in Educational Leadership and Policy Studies from the University of Northern Colorado and a Ph.D. in Industrial/ Organizational Psychology from Grand Canyon University.

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