The CARES Act—Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security was signed into law on March 27, 2020 in the USA. It includes a major help for K-12 and Higher Education organizations that are delineated within Section(s) 18003 and 18004.
Section 18003 includes an Education Stabilization Fund that provides $13.5 billion in K-12 formula grants to states, distributed based on their share of ESEA Title I funds. State education agencies will then be able to distribute at least 90% of received funds to school districts and public charter schools based on their share of Title I-A funds.
These funds allow for wide latitude and flexibility for Local Education Agencies (LEAs) within the specific areas outlined below. This funding is specifically earmarked for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic emergency, including the immediate pivot to online learning in K-12 schools across the U.S.
Funding provided by the CARES Act allows schools to address the following needs:
Section 18004 Higher Education Emergency Relief funds are distributed through the Pell Enrollment Formula (Formula Funds). The CARES Act stipulates a funding formula to divide these funds among institutions. The formula has two distinct parts based on the number of fulltime Pell Grant recipients.
The CARES Act then divides the Formula Funds into two categories, based on the stipulations for their use:
To receive Emergency Student Financial Aid, institutions need to submit a signed Funding Certification and Agreement. To receive these Institutional Funds, the institution must submit the student aid agreement mentioned above, and then they must complete and submit a second Funding Certification and Agreement.
In addition, each state will receive a share of the $3 billion Governor’s Education Relief Fund, which governors can use at their discretion to provide emergency support grants to K-12 schools, colleges and universities, and child care/early education providers.
A key need identified by districts throughout the nation for both K-12 and Higher Education has been the immediate pivot to 100% online learning, teaching, and working. The rapid progress of the Pandemic has required drastic actions in all aspects of our lives and activities. Education is no different. Students and parents have had to adapt – virtually overnight – to stay at home orders, which has required educators to embrace a whole new pedagogy without access to training or professional development.
Transitioning to a 100% online educational format has also required IT/EdTech departments to add devices for every student and staff to their networks. 1:1 and remote learning are requiring IT Departments to expand their networks along as well as their ability to support and secure remote learning and working for all students and staff. These networks are being stretched to the limit. And to make matters worse, in the midst of this pandemic threat actors are increasing their targeting of education. Last year, cyberattacks against K-12 were already on the rise—with incidents nearly tripling in 2019. That pace has accelerated even further during this worldwide crisis.
Under the district-wide approach, Title I funds can be combined with state and local dollars to upgrade a school’s entire educational program. The CARES Act also authorizes waivers that allow local districts increased flexibility on the use of Title IV-A funds, including lifting the limit that no more than 15% of Title IV-A funds can be used to purchase technology.
It is essential, therefore, that IT/EdTech be at the front of the line to have essential projects and equipment funded using portions of these funds. This is going to require CTOs and IT Directors to, in effect, become advocates for their projects and operational needs. This will require the inclusion and support of the district administration. But receiving this funding will first require the development of the plan and budget you will require, and then persuading leadership to “buy in” to the importance of your request.
But because time is of the essence, it is also recommended that organizations engage with district leadership right away. Being “first in line” in the funding allocation discussion is critically important to provide the sort of 21st century education that today’s students require.
Watch our on-demand webinar to learn more about the CARES Act.
Learn more about how to maintain education continuity through broad, integrated, and automated Fortinet Security Solutions for Remote Learning.