July 30, 2020

CARE-ING for Campus Safety

It’s no secret that the COVID-19 pandemic has affected – and continues to affect – many industries worldwide. Many people were laid off or furloughed, and restaurants, gyms, and schools began to close down and shift to a virtual platform with food delivery applications and online workout and educational classes. In response to these actions, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was created to help lessen COVID-19’s impact on the United States economy. The CARES Act allotted $30.75 billion to the Education Stabilization Fund, and $13.2 billion of that specifically for the Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ESSER Fund), a grant to help schools prevent, prepare for, and respond to the coronavirus.

The ESSER Fund requires State Education Agencies to allocate at least 90% of their grant to local school districts and charter schools. Local educational agencies (LEAs) must apply for the fund and are able to use the money for any necessary resources that address the needs of their individual schools, such as public safety and connectivity. Schools can utilize their ESSER funding for commercial and public safety communication network upgrades — something administrators often overlook due to cost.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, many elementary and secondary schools were working to improve student safety on campuses through a series of new design measures such as bullet-proof glass, sturdier walls, safe rooms and deliberate landscaping to mitigate active shooters or other malicious events. While these changes will help protect students, safer building materials can inhibit in-building connectivity, making it hard for students or teachers to call first responders in an emergency and for first responders to communicate with each other once they are on the premises. It is important for school administrators to understand that student safety upgrades are not complete until a reliable public safety network is in place.

According to the FCC, 51% of 911 calls come from a cell phone in a building, yet a recent survey found that 65% of first responders have experienced an in-building communication failure. In order to truly keep students safe, schools and districts need to invest in public safety communications systems. These systems ensure that first responders have reliable radio communications when an emergency erupts in small to large buildings on K-12 campuses.

Using the ESSER Fund, schools can implement ADRF’s PSR Series a fully code-compliant repeater solution to the latest International Fire Code (IFC), National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), and Underwriters Laboratories (UL) codes that ensure reliable public safety networks across school campuses and other commercial buildings.

Additionally, by providing students with a robust commercial wireless network it can enhance their learning experience significantly by powering computers and other learning applications. Schools can implement ADRF’s ADXV for commercial wireless connectivity.

While the ESSER fund will help make upgrades to students’ learning and campus experiences as they return to the new normal, districts and schools should also explore the possibility of utilizing this grant to ensure students, faculty and staff are constantly safe and connected on campus.

To learn more about ADRF’s public safety solutions for school, click HERE.