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Why aren’t schools using Covid funding?

May 24, 2022by Global Ozone

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, schools were awarded $122 billion in funding to address sanitation needs, staffing shortages, learning loss, and mental health programs. And after a swift transition to online learning and other setbacks caused by Covid, this money is definitely needed. In spite of this, the Wall Street Journal found that 93% of Covid funds remain unspent – and could potentially be lost.

Supply Chain Issues

We’ve all been hit with unexpected consequences of supply chain failures lately, including schools. As we wait a few extra days or weeks for an Amazon order, schools may be experiencing this on a larger scale.

Schools don’t order supplies in small quantities, and these bulk orders are much more likely to be affected by the current supply chain failures. While they may have ordered new supplies, like technology, books, or even PPE, the supplier may be unable to deliver – leaving schools to regroup on their spending plans. Now, over half of school superintendents fear that their Covid funds may expire while they wait on products stuck in the supply chain.

Fear of the Future

While education departments are more than pleased with the extra school funding, they have to be reasonable about how their spending plans will change when the Covid funds run out. If they rush to build new facilities, buy classroom technology, or make sweeping staff increases, school administrators worry about their ability to maintain solvency after 2024.

Smaller class sizes are great for teachers and students alike – but are they sustainable? While the current influx of cash could allow schools to hire new staff, school boards fear they won’t be able to maintain these new salaries after the funding is exhausted. Instead, many of these newly-hired teachers may have to be terminated after the school district goes over the edge of the so-called “funding cliff.”

Earmarked Funds

While some of this money is still sitting in the bank, it doesn’t mean that there isn’t a plan in place. Many schools have already set funds aside for future projects, like large-scale renovations or better ventilation systems. These projects take time to plan and develop, and then they must flow through the proper channels for approval before a check can be cashed. Due to the lengthy planning, approval, and bid process, a Montana education department worries that even with two years left to use the funding, their planned ventilation system upgrades may not be ready in time.

Schools have also obligated some funds in an effort to quell pandemic learning loss but are still waiting for finalized plans. In Los Angeles, the school board hoped to hire supplemental tutors to help students who were falling behind, but many of these tutors were swept into teaching roles due to labor shortages. Struggling to find reliable tutors and sign contracts, the project has taken six months longer than expected and none of the earmarked funds have been spent yet.

Red Tape

You may have a problem that Covid funding could easily solve, but where do you go from there? Teachers, coaches, and administrators spend every day with students and know how to meet their needs with these funds, but they don’t know how to access them. And, to be fair, there’s not a lot of easily accessible guidance for those who would like to access and use Covid funds to improve their school.

While the Treasury Department provides a few answers on their website, finding Covid funding rules, regulations and request channels requires lots of extra time – a rarity for many educators. We understand that frustration, which is why we compiled a comprehensive Covid funding guide to answer all of your questions. In our guide, we provide everything you need to know, from acceptable uses of funds to sample funding request letters.

Even after you draft your request, it can even be difficult to pinpoint the right local official to share it with. If you’re not sure who regulates Covid funding in your county, check out the companion guide that can point you toward the right local representative.

If you’re looking for an approved use of Covid funding to keep students healthy, Global Ozone is proud to offer a safe sanitizing solution that will protect students and athletes during the pandemic and for years to come. We’re here to help you through the process of securing Covid funds to protect your student-athletes. Get in touch to learn more.