For many school districts today, finding $150,000 for e-Physical Education (e-PE) wearable technology solutions and iPads is the stuff of dreams. For Adam Otstot of Virginia’s Hanover County Public Schools, the CARES Act made that dream came true.
The 2020 legislation allocates $13.2 billion in emergency COVID relief that can be used to buy technology items for K–12 public schools. And unlike grant requests, there was hardly any paperwork—just three simple steps.
Step 1: Confirm your district has CARES Act funds available. Adam decided to explore how the funds could be used to strengthen health and PE instruction in Hanover County. He recalls, “I have an incredibly supportive administrative staff. They saw my vision, and they were happy to allocate some of the CARES Act funds” to offer an equitable PE experience to all Hanover County students. To verify that funding is still available for your district, be sure to check with your administrators, teachers, and procurement officials.
Step 2: Make a needs list. The CARES Act gives preference to technology, software, hardware, and device purchases—not other PE equipment like racquets, nets, or balls. When Adam asked his fellow HPE teachers what they wanted, they requested smart wearable technology like heart rate monitors and activity trackers, software, and miscellaneous items. They knew they not only could use the items now for online instruction, but later when in-person learning resumed.
Hanover County Public Schools’ Health and Physical Education (HPE) programs had limited technology at their disposal, Adam said. So he collaborated with district HPE teachers to identify the tools that would let them provide the most effective instruction and assessment in the COVID era. He made a one-page wish list and took it to upper-level administrators, who confirmed that emergency funding was available.
The Hanover County teachers asked that the tracking devices be able to connect to the internet, with a solution that let students upload the data remotely into one central cloud location. This would allow the teachers to see all their students’ results in one location at one time, and verify the students were performing the recommended amount of moderate to vigorous physical activity (MVPA).
Adam’s School Specialty representative recommended a perfect solution: a technology product that could aggregate the students’ activity data, saving teachers’ time and making it easy to assess student performance and participation.
Step 3: Just ask. “I didn’t have to apply or fill out grant requirements” to get CARES Act dollars, Adam said. “All I had to do was ask. That makes it a lot easier for me and every PE teacher or district coordinator.”
Of course, every district is unique. The availability of funds, and the process for getting them, varies. Find out more about CARES funding allocations by visiting https://covid-relief-data.ed.gov/. To find product solutions that align to your district’s needs, contact your School Specialty representative.