It’s been almost three years since Covid first appeared and completely rocked how we do school, work, and social interactions. Since then, teachers have worked to eliminate learning gaps, while students have found new ways to connect socially.
As we look to the new year, how will schools continue to respond to Covid — and will they make the most of federal Covid funding?
The First “Normal” Year
For the class of 2023, their last year of high school will likely be their most “normal” one. Most schools fully returned to in-person instruction and lifted masking mandates. Seniors finally get to have school dances and enjoy school sports and clubs. And the joyful return to these school traditions isn’t going unnoticed.
This year, expect to see schools embracing reconnection, refocusing on student relationships, and encouraging extracurricular activities. Many educators have noted that Covid didn’t just cause students to miss out on curriculum but also on key social lessons that are often absorbed during school. Now that students are back in the classroom, school administrations aim to build students’ teamwork and collaboration skills.
New Technology in Schools
In August of this year, a new class of students will start their high school experience without Covid looming overhead. And while they won’t have to worry about Covid restrictions, school does look different than it did before the pandemic.
Online school may be a thing of the past, but technology has made its way into the classroom permanently. Education technology has the power to address major learning gaps that resulted from the pandemic — if we can effectively scale access. For school districts that can afford it, expect to see infrastructure to support ed tech both in classrooms and at home. This means more outlets in classrooms, a laptop or tablet for each student, and access to internet connection in every student’s home.
With this extended infrastructure, students will access online instructional tools, turn in assignments on Google Classroom, and review asynchronous lessons from anywhere.
How Schools Will Respond to Covid
In an interesting development, schools are starting to treat Covid much like any other illness. Where we used to see extra excused absences and quarantining policies, it’s now business as usual. Sick students stay home, and healthy students help them catch up on work when they get back.
You will still see an emphasis on keeping classrooms and schools clean, though. In an attempt to keep students and staff healthy, schools will continue implementing air filtration systems, buying up sanitizing products, and encouraging handwashing.
Covid Funds Are Still Available
2023 represents a major inflection point for schools. With the ARPA and SLFRF Covid funding deadline coming up, it’s crunch time to allocate and use the funds — or lose them forever. Any money left in the Covid funding coffers will expire in September 2024.
In 2022, schools hesitated to spend their Covid funds out of fear of falling over a “funding cliff” — where they no longer have the resources to keep up with new staff hired with extra Covid funds. As of June 2022, there was $122 billion still left unspent, leading to major questions about whether schools would be able to use funds to their full potential in time.
Now, education officials are ramping up their spending to provide much-needed support before they lose it. Spending has now increased to about $5 billion per month, and many schools are turning to more permanent fixtures to purchase with Covid funds.
Schools are also finally cutting through the red tape of spending approvals. After two years, school district leaders have the guidance they need to submit plans and act on them.
Sanitizing Products for Covid and Beyond
Looking for a permanent sanitizing solution that can be purchased with Covid funding? We’ve got you covered.
Sports-O-Zone is a powerful sanitizing system that significantly reduces bacteria, viruses, and mold that live on commonly shared items in schools. Not only will it protect against Covid, but you can also avoid other seasonal illnesses like RSV and the flu. Whether it’s the football team’s shoulder pads or protective eye goggles in the lab, Sports-O-Zone makes shared items safe to use for a new set of students in just 32 minutes.
Even better? Your school can get one for free with Covid funds. Check out our Covid Funding Guide for step-by-step instructions on how to use Covid funding to purchase Sports-O-Zone.
Reach out to us for a quote today.