Last year, when money from the CARES Act first started pouring into school districts, leaders began prioritizing it for remote learning technology and behavioral health training.
According to the Herald-Mail, the Waynesboro Area School District in Pennsylvania, for example, received $288,000 throughthe CARES Act and planned to spend the money on Chromebook cases for virtual school, computer power adapters, and 20 internet hotspots. These hotspots, ideal for students deprived of internet at home who are in search of reliable, free WiFi points, were installed in waterproof containers throughout the community. Conveniently, students can automatically connect to them with their district-owned devices.
For remote learning, students were issued Chromebooks equipped with the content-filtering application Go Guardian, designed to keep students safe online, while allowing them to chat with their teachers and peers and enable a video-conferencing feature.
“During the school days, the instructor can monitor that the students are on task and monitor their activity,” said Nicholas Erickson, the school district’s director of technology. “All interactions are recorded for security purposes.”
When the Waco Independent School District (WISD) in Texas received $17,000 from the Students, Teachers, and Officers Preventing (STOP) School Violence Mental Health grant, a different plan was put in place, reported KCEN-TV. Here, providing training strategies that would ultimately lead to the creation of peer mediation programs was the focus.
“One of our top priorities is creating and sustaining safe and supportive learning environments for our students and staff,” said Rachelle Warren, WISD assistant superintendent for student services and support. “Empowering students to be active partners in this effort significantly increases the effectiveness of peer mediation and its long-term impact.”
The STOP grant also allowed the district the chance to partner with Education Service Center Region 12. “Teaching students effective coping skills and self-regulation are critical to not only their social and emotional health but also their educational success,” said WISD superintendent Susan Kincannon.
A version of this article was originally published by Campus Safety.