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Education Stabilization Funds Largely Untapped

Posted on 12/13/2021 6:00:00 PM by Legrand AV Team



So, we’re going to recommend something new for this space, and that is to send you elsewhere. Before you read on, you need to visit the Education Stabilization Fund website and see for yourself how much your state has not spent of the billions allocated by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act), the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA Act) and the American Rescue Plan Act (ARP Act). Go ahead. Here’s a link. We’ll wait for you to get back.

OK! Have you had time to put your eyes back in your head/collect yourself? We know. It’s a LOT of funding that has yet to be allocated by states and schools. Many states have yet to even start spending the ARP funding, which is also the largest amount of funding allocated for Covid relief.

Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funding is by far the least utilized so far. Though Higher Education Emergency Relief (HEER) funding also has quite a bit left. 

Funding-Graphs

Moreover, these funds have a time limit. The CARES Act funding is only available through September 30, 2022. The CRRSA and ARP funding must be obligated by Sept. 30, 2023 and 2024 respectively. Each Act is further subdivided into different pools of funding. You can read about it here.

That means there is a lot of funding you can tap into whether you are a technology coordinator at your institution or a distributor with education customers.

Schools spent the past two years using funds to address immediate needs in the system and keep students learning through the pandemic. The CARES money is mostly gone, but that still leaves a vast amount of funding as educational institutions begin to strategize and look ahead to find the right solutions for the future of their facilities

Schools are now telling parents about this funding and asking how it should be spent. NOW is the time to start pitching your case. Though much of the CRRSA and ARPA will likely see use in updating facilities for ventilation and HVAC purposes, there is a lot to be said for updating AV systems since students now expect the option to attend classes remotely. Legislators built plenty of flexibility into these acts to allow institutions to use funds to their best purposes. AV systems that help to add hybrid and hyflex capabilities through distance learning solutions are able to take advantage of the relief funds.

“We’ve really gone from using these video conferencing platforms as a novelty to using them as a necessity throughout education,” said Brian Retzlaff, Solutions Engineer. “Usage of online collaboration tools is second nature to students who have had to use it, and I think that leaves the door open for us as AV integrators to make the experience better.”

Remote management solutions also help keep systems running. Just a few years ago, people would turn down network switches for higher education. The tide has changed dramatically to the point where network switches are being installed in every classroom to service PoE powered equipment at a cheaper rate than adding PoE injectors. With more devices per classroom, an edge switch allows managers to only pay for one port per room and still provide complete connectivity.

Connectivity should also be of concern to get interactive whiteboards and other devices hooked up to the instructor's desk. Educators who work in different rooms or bring their laptops home each night benefit from having available docking stations to simply plug in their laptop and start the class.

Add to that the housing boom all over the nation that will drive needs for new schools, and we think you get where we’re seeing the winds blowing.

Moving past the pandemic, we’re still expecting to see education AV continue to help meet demand for classrooms that can accommodate social distancing and distance learning while keeping students engaged through multiple devices. How so? Here’s how so:

1.Classroom Content Visibility Limitations - Screens

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Challenge: Average classroom displays are 65” or smaller, requiring students to remain close to one another in order to view the content.

Solution: Go bigger! Upgrade and install a >110” projection screen so the students can sit comfortably spaced apart and still be able to see the content. The Tensioned Advantage Series screens are a good place to start!

2. Hybrid & Hyflex Learning Technology – Video & Audio

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Challenge: By now, teachers have discovered the limitations of their built-in laptop cameras and audio devices. While super cost effective, this seriously restricts the amount of movement and engagement with the students. The laptop needs to be physically moved in the room to show display content and keep instructors on video at the same time as well as continue to be within range of the laptop microphone. These distractions hurt the learning process.

Solution: Give the gift of movement! Upgrade with a professional camera system that provides preset capabilities to switch seamlessly between content and other locations within the room. Add professional microphones so remote students can hear clean, precise audio and vice versa. Even better, an ePTZ camera can do the auto-tracking work so instructors can feel free to ignore whether they are in the camera’s view and focus on the content.

3.Keeping Students Engaged

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Challenge: Sharing content with only a laptop becomes a one-to-many conversation. While suitable for many presentations, students are limited in their ability to learn from one another.

Solution: Invest in tools that weave together remote and on-site teams for shared learning an interactive dry erase screen and interactive projector. (An interactive flat panel with cart also works!) This technology allows teachers and students to share content and interact to transform the presentation from static to engaging.

4. Multiple Device Flexibility

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Challenge: Hybrid learning environments for teachers and students means a lot of back and forth with a multitude of devices. Reconnecting a laptop in the classroom and at home and connecting to extended monitors is a challenge and can eat up valuable class time.

Solution: Make it plug and play! Docking stations allow multiple devices to connect to one another with a single cable. They also allow different content on multiple monitors.

We’ve got a solutions team that can help make these ideas, and many other ideas, a reality. If you need help with your projects or need more information on what other solutions we can create for you, email us at av.solutions@legrand.com with the details of your project.