More than a year and a half into the pandemic, administrators continue to work through school reopening plans. The challenge of balancing in-person learning with COVID-19 mitigation may feel – to quote Baseball Hall of Famer Yogi Berra – “like déjà vu all over again.”
From cleaning and disinfecting strategies to infrastructure upgrades, the plans and processes needed to reopen schools safely have left education budgets shifted, stretched, and wrung out. Luckily, new relief funds are available to bolster facilities improvements.
Senate-approved relief funds are here
Earlier this year, we outlined the funds available to schools through the Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2021, which laid out $82 billion to support the Education Stabilization Fund.
Now, educational institutions can plan on another infusion of funds, in the form of the $1.2 trillion infrastructure plan approved by the Senate last week. The infrastructure plan, along with a separate budget resolution of $3.5 trillion, joins the almost $200 billion already available to schools for COVID-related expenses.
What new funding is available?
The $1.2 trillion plan would allow for crucial infrastructure upgrades nationwide, both in and out of schools, including:
- Expanded public internet access
- Removal and replacement of lead pipes
- Investment in electric vehicles, including electric school buses
The budget resolution is more specifically aimed at schools. It offers funds for a much wider range of education-related projects, such as:
- School infrastructure improvements
- Investment in HBCUs
- Universal pre-K for 3- and 4-year-olds
The Senate’s budget resolution also includes Pell Grant increases and free community college, which should boost enrollment of students who couldn’t otherwise afford college tuition.
How can COVID relief funds be used?
Most importantly, the federal government has released guidance for school administrators that says, in essence, relief aid can be used for any projects they want, so long as the projects fall within the broad uses outlined by Congress.
That means schools from kindergartens to universities can receive funding for projects like:
- Upgrades to HVAC and ventilation systems
- Intensified cleaning and disinfecting programs
- Dormitories designated for student quarantine
- Enhancement of outdoor student spaces and grounds
- Specialized entry areas for temperature or vaccine checks
- Expanded onsite healthcare facilities for COVID testing
Keep your school safer and cleaner
How will educators keep expanded or repurposed areas safer and cleaner? By working with a facilities management team that specializes in educational environments AND has experience with COVID mitigation in school settings.
Our workforce completes training in CDC compliance and site-specific social distancing protocols. Onsite teams receive instruction from an HES team leader who is trained and certified through the Global Bio-risk Advisory Council (GBAC).
In addition, before our team members enter any space on your school’s campus, we makes sure they complete training for safe, effective practices, including:
- Client policies and procedures
- CDC COVID-19 mitigation protocols
- Proper use and sequencing of personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Proper use of disinfectants and safety data sheets
- Operation of electrostatic sprayers and other specialized equipment
- Contaminated spaces and risk assessment
- Scheduling and responsive work processes
- QA processes and documentation
- Client-specific communications
- OSHA workplace safety
Work with the right facilities management team
Want to know more about how the right facilities management partner can help your educational facility prepare for a return to in-person learning? Contact us at [email protected].
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