Public Schools Look to Federal Funding to Offset COVID-19 Spending

Public Schools Look to Federal Funding to Offset COVID-19 Spending

As the COVID-19 pandemic upended educational systems around the world, the massive shift to remote education triggered significant technology-related challenges. Supporting remote learning for students strained the digital technology environments at many schools, leading to the need for increased tech investments, particularly in the public K-12 schools.

Students needed devices such as laptops and tablets, but that was just the start. They also needed cameras, headsets, speakers, and microphones to participate in online classes, as well as Wi-Fi hot spots—both in schools and in student homes—for connecting to the internet. Schools also often had to purchase additional computer software licenses for learning management software as well as communications and collaboration applications.

Early into remote learning, many school districts had to add capacity and bandwidth for internet access to support the added volume of traffic needed to facilitate remote and hybrid classes, as well as to access vital cloud-based remote-learning applications such as Google Meet, Google Docs, and Zoom.

For the U.S. in most cases, federal stimulus programs such as the CARES Act provided funding or reimbursement for these technology purchases. Approved by Congress in 2020, this legislation helped schools make the technology investments they need to bring the classroom to the students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Investing in Service Quality and Security

IT teams supporting school systems inevitably faced challenges maintaining performance quality for students—both at home and in school—as well as for many of the teachers. Problems included the following:

  • Poor quality or delayed audio and/or video with communication and collaboration tools
  • Inability to log into the schools’ learning management applications
  • Internet and broadband bottlenecks at schools and data centers

Schools also had to grapple with cybersecurity threats to consistent, reliable remote learning during this period. Headline-grabbing disruptions were reported for school districts in Maryland, Florida, Virginia, and Massachusetts, among others, ranging from students launching distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks against their schools to threat actors that held a school’s network for ransom. With the institutions’ networks unavailable for days, both in-person and remote classes were canceled.

Combatting the threats to both network performance and security have led some IT organizations to source performance monitoring and management platforms as well as cybersecurity solutions. While students and faculty take a well-earned break this summer, IT professionals are hard at work evaluating their current-state situations and investigating upgrades to their schools’ performance management and security technology. The good news is that many schools should qualify, at least in part, for CARES Act monies and other education technology grants.

Learn how one central U.S. school district used CARES Act funding to add monitoring visibility and control to keep remote learning streaming seamlessly.

Read the story