As schools across the country look to recover from the disruptions of the COVID-19 pandemic’s disruptions, federal relief funds can go a long way toward supporting students and building a brighter future for education. The $190 billion provided through the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) present an unprecedented opportunity for schools to make strategic investments that support student success and long-term growth.
But with so many options and requirements for how these funds can be used, it can be challenging for schools to know where to start. According to the U.S. Department of Education, many states have spent less than half of the funding allocated to them.
With the deadline for using these funds quickly approaching, it’s essential to have a clear plan to make the most of this historic investment in education. Here are five key strategies that schools can use to maximize the impact of COVID relief funds:
The need for safe and healthy school facilities has never been more important. Schools can use relief funds to upgrade HVAC systems, implement touchless water stations, provide personal protective equipment (PPE) and more to support the health and well-being of students and staff.
Schools can use funds to purchase laptops, tablets and other technology devices to support blended and online learning. This includes providing students with devices and internet access to participate in virtual classes.
The pandemic has led to significant disruptions in learning, leaving many students lagging behind. Schools are required to use at least 20 percent of their funds to address learning loss and ensure that students have access to high-quality educational opportunities. This can include investments in tutoring, summer programs and other interventions that help students catch up and regain their footing.
Schools can use funds to develop new curriculum materials or purchase new textbooks and other educational materials. Teachers can also use funds for professional development, including training on how to use new educational technology in the classroom.
The pandemic has taken a toll on the mental health and well-being of many students. Schools can use relief funds to provide mental health and emotional support services to students who may be experiencing anxiety or depression due to the pandemic
A needs assessment can help schools identify specific areas where relief funds can be most effective. Procurement officers should work with school leaders to assess the current state of facilities, technology and instructional resources to determine where investments are most needed. Once needs are determined, tools like Amazon Business’ Request for Quote make it easy to maximize funds with quantity discounts on high-volume purchases.
Of course, with federal relief funds come increased scrutiny and accountability. Schools must be transparent about how they use their funds and ensure that all expenditures comply with applicable regulations. They must also establish clear metrics and benchmarks to track the impact of their investments and report on their progress regularly. Tools such as Amazon Business Analytics and Spend Visibility can provide administrators with a clear picture of how funding is being used.
By implementing these strategies, procurement officers can play a vital role in building a stronger education system for all. By investing strategically in areas of greatest need, K-12 schools can make the most of COVID relief funds and support student success for years to come.
Originally published in EdSurge.
Learn how your district can make the most of COVID relief funds
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