How to Use ESSER III Funding in Schools

What is ESSER III?

The Elementary and Secondary School Relief Fund (ESSER) is a grant program based on Title VII of the March 2020 CARES act. It provides funding to help schools respond to a wide range of difficulties arising from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Laid out in the American Rescue Plan (ARP) act of March 2021, ESSER III (also known as ARP ESSER) was the third and final round of funding in the program. With almost $122 billion in support to school districts and local educational agencies across the country, it was also by far the largest.

Is my school eligible for ESSER III funds?

It is no longer possible to apply for ESSER III funds. 

However, your school can still use any remaining ESSER III funds it still has.

How long can my school access ESSER III funds?

Like most government grants, ESSER III funds expire if you don’t use them. Your school must obligate its ESSER III funds by the end of September 2024.

If you have any uncommitted ESSER III funds after September 30, 2024, your school will lose them entirely.

What can ESSER III funds cover?

ESSER III funding can be used for:

  • Coordination, training, education, and professional development to prevent the spread of infectious diseases and improve readiness for future emergencies.
  • Technology that aids with contact tracing to monitor potential outbreaks.
  • Raises, bonuses, and benefits for teachers and other school staff, and hiring new staff as needed.
  • Cleaning supplies for school facilities.
  • Facility upgrades like improved HVAC systems to curb disease transmission.
  • Programs, tools, staff, and supplies to address the unique needs of disadvantaged students and their families.
  • Technology, coursework, and other materials and equipment for online learning.
  • Summer and after-school programs to address learning loss.
  • Mental health services and support structures, such as counseling for students.

States have no authority to restrict or condition this funding. However, the U.S. Department of Education may audit usage to monitor for impropriety.

Can ESSER III funds be used for video surveillance cameras?

Yes, as long as you plan to use those cameras for health and safety purposes. A network of surveillance cameras is a crucial tool for contact tracing because it makes it possible to track the movements and interactions of potential disease carriers. This enables public health authorities to prevent or contain outbreaks.

What features do surveillance cameras have for contact tracing?

Manually monitoring every video feed is far too costly to be practical. That’s why many modern surveillance cameras, like those produced by Hanwha Vision, include features that help with contact tracing.

Thermal Imaging Cameras for Fever Detection

Modern radiometric thermal cameras can identify individuals with elevated body temperature, which is often a sign of a fever. That’s because they can monitor and report the exact surface temperature of objects and individuals.

While the thermal cameras of the past were mainly used for improved visibility in dark areas, the precision of radiometric cameras makes them a valuable public health tool. Coupled with AI processing, these cameras can even account for contextual factors like hot weather and exercise that may produce a false positive.

AI Movement Tracking

AI surveillance algorithms like Hanwha Vision’s Wisenet AI can automatically identify individuals, track their movements throughout school facilities, and note when they come into contact with others. They can flag and monitor potential disease carriers, then quickly create a list of every person who might have been exposed.

Wisenet AI also uses deep learning techniques to reliably identify distinct objects and people and minimize false alarms. By automatically separating the important information from the noise, Wisenet AI helps you stop potential outbreaks before they happen.

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About Hanwha Vision

Hanwha Vision (formerly Hanwha Techwin) has been leading the global video surveillance industry with world-class optical design, image processing and cybersecurity technologies for more than 30 years. As it broadens its business to become a global vision solution provider, Hanwha Vision will deliver more valuable and meaningful insights to customers by collecting key information and providing big data analytics utilizing AI and cloud technologies.

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