Part 3 — The Story: How did a District Use CARES Act Money to Purchase Physical Education Technology?
In December 2020, through the CARES Act, one of Virginia’s largest public schools invested $160,000 into wearable technology for online Physical Education for their 9-12th grades from Heart Zones. What were the steps to success? What was required of the district PE coordinator to succeed in being awarded this sum of funding to provide ePE, online Physical Education for her students? The answer is as simple as the steps: provide one sheet of paper. Today, the CARES Act money is available, and waiting for the ask from other PE and health teachers across the nation for the asking. Are you willing to take the simple three steps required to submit one sheet of paper with an equipment-needs list?
The story began in 2018 when a PE teacher, who requested that her name not be used in this article, was awarded the distinction of Virginia Teacher of the Year in the high school physical education from SHAPE America, the Society of Health and Physical Educators. Then, she was promoted to the position of Supervisor of Health and PE for the school district. During a virtual forum she attended with one of her vendors, School Specialty, she first learned in November of the availability of easy-to-get funding through the $30 billion allocated to schools through the CARES Act. This act provides emergency relief funds to address the impact that COVID-19 has on K-12 and colleges private and public across the nation.
There are only three fast and simple steps that this exemplary PE teacher wants to share with all PE and health teachers across the nation. Your path may be different depending on the availability of funding in your district or district’s procurement requirements.
Step 1 – Find the Right People
According to the county supervisor of PE “I didn’t realize how accessible the funding was on the local level so when I learned I first started by asking questions to the right people,” she explains. For her, the right people were easy for her to reach – the administrators, her district PE, and health teachers, and the procurement office. The procurement office confirmed that they had CARES money to spend. In fact, the procurement offices were anxiously waiting for teachers to come forward with a list of technology equipment and professional development needs. These are two of the primary line items that can be purchased through the CARES Act. The Supervisor of Health and PE asked the upper grades physical and health teachers in her schools what they wanted. The teachers asked for smart wearable technology, software, and miscellaneous items that could be used for online instruction. The PE teachers knew that when schools return to teaching at their facilities, that these purchases of smart activity trackers and heart rate monitors could also be used and they wanted them.
Step 2 – Make a Needs List
The Supervisor of Health and PE explained to the teachers that the CARES Act specifies the preference for technology; not equipment like basketballs. Together, her teachers asked for tracking devices preferably that connected to the internet with a solution that students could upload the data remotely into one central cloud location. This allows the teachers to see their student’s results in one location at one time and verify that they were achieving the recommended amount of %MVPA. The Supervisor of Health and PE’s School Specialty representative had just what they needed to aggregate the data to save them time and provide an easier way to assess their performance and participation. The Supervisor of Health and PE asked for a quote.
Step 3 – Just Ask
The procurement office then asked the Supervisor of Health and PE for a copy of the quote. It was approved almost immediately, with no additional paperwork or requirements. According to the Supervisor of Health and PE, it was different this time, “The procurement office simply asked what I wanted. The procurement office left it up to me to get the quotes which was easy. But, I unnecessarily did more to defend the amount, I made a rationale-list but they didn’t even want me to explain why or what because they just needed one sheet of paper – the quote. It was so easy and different this time.”
Because the CARES Act is an emergency relief fund for schools, the federal government devised a fast way get this financial assistance, that is money to the local school district’s bank account. This is how the money continues to flow today. Currently, the CARES Act funding is available to every school district in the USA, private and public. But, you have to take the three steps just like the Supervisor of Health and PE:
- Step 1. Find the Right People
- Step 2. Make a Needs List
- Step 3. Just Ask
After reading the Supervisor of Health and PE’s story, isn’t it worth following her footsteps? Isn’t it worth asking for technology funding for your physical education and health program? One thing you know for sure, if you don’t ask, you are not going to get it.
When asked if there was anything the Supervisor of Health and PE would have done differently now that she has succeeded with little effort, she answered positively “There’s usually a lot of leg work involved in getting equipment purchased for PE. For the first time in my career, there was not really anything that I had to do except to ask. I wish I had asked for more money particularly for my K-8 grades because it was so easy and the procurement office would have provided it.”
Heart Zones provides a measurement device, curriculum, and professional development that can be used by teachers to provide DEVELOPMENTALLY APPROPRIATE physical education that is safe and supports the acquisition of motor, fitness, cognitive and personal social skills among students so that they may pursue a healthy, active lifestyle. Visit: www.heartzones.com or email Staff@heartzones.com
To Learn More – Recommended Resources:
- Supervisor of Health and PE has offered to share her experience: (571) 252-1430
- To reference this article Heart Zones Part 1. Free and Quick Money for PE and Health Teachers use the following URL: https://www.heartzones.com/the-cares-act-and-heart-zones-cares-part-1/
- To reference Part 2. ASK click on this URL: https://www.heartzones.com/the-cares-act-and-heart-zones-cares-part-2/