ESSER Funding

Guide to K-12 Safe School Reopening

Strategies for ESSER Funding to Protect Your School

Emergency School Funding

The U.S. Government has set aside over $190 billon in stimulus funding for schools in the form of federal COVID-19 relief funds.

Three bills—CARES, CRRSA, and ARP—include the “Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund” (ESSER) that targets K-12 school districts.

The ARP ESSER fund has set aside $122 billion in available funds to help schools safely reopen. The funding allows for expenses that reduce the pandemic’s impacts on students through the purchase of health screening tools, funds for learning loss, and additional resources to address the mental well-being of students impacted by the isolation of the lockdown. ARP also provides districts with a large number of Title 1 schools priority access to this funding.

We Can Help You Access ESSER Funding

Let us help your district access these federal programs so you can focus on reopening schools. We can provide supporting documentation and examples to help your finance team or grant writers get access to the technology you need to address the impact of the pandemic on students and staff.

Download the Guide

Learn best practices and key strategies to safely reopen your school and how COVID-19 funds can be applied to purchase critical safety software.

Speak to a Safety Expert
We can help your school reopen safely with the technology you need to address the impact of the pandemic on students.

Download the Checklist
See what to include in your Reopening Plan with our Reopening Checklist.

Your Guide to ESSER Funds

We recently released a guide to help schools access ESSER Grants for the safety products they will need to safely reopen schools. The guide covers topics such as:


Maximize School Stimulus Funding to Secure Your Campus

Districts are receiving an unprecedented amount of funding to address the impacts of COVID-19. These funds give districts and schools the resources to implement recommended best practices to reopen and safely stay open. When used strategically, you can use stimulus funding to respond to COVID-19 and implement solutions that will help build and maintain a safe learning environment well beyond the pandemic.

Schools must focus on safety while addressing the impacts of COVID-19 on students’ social, emotional, and mental health and academic needs. The four major components of reopening safely are listed below.

Health Screening

Necessity to keep those with exposure risk off campus through health screenings and prompt contact tracing

Mental Health
Need to respond to and be prepared for student mental health crises

Learning Loss

Unfinished learning and/or K-12 learning loss that will require additional resources to help students return to grade level

Continuity Plan

Planning for or implementing activities during long-term closures, including providing meals to eligible students and technology for online learning


Best Practices to Safely Reopen and Stay Open

Your local officials can provide the best guidance for your specific community and region while also ensuring you consider the recommended guidance from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) and the U.S. Department of Education (ED). These agencies recognize that schools need a layered approach for the greatest protection.

The Layered Approach

  • Contact Tracing
  • Health Screenings
  • Learning Loss
  • Student Mental Health

Contact Tracing

Contact tracing is a crucial strategy to stop COVID-19’s transmission by informing those that may have been exposed so they can monitor their health, get tested, and self-isolate. It requires prompt action because the faster schools can alert others that they were exposed, the faster they can help stop the virus from spreading to anyone else. Prompt contact tracing requires you to know precisely who is on campus and when and to have this information readily available.

Health Screenings

The ED recommends that students and staff members screen themselves for symptoms at home. To accomplish this, schools can send a daily questionnaire to staff members and each student’s guardian that is accessible on the individual’s mobile device or computer. Systems that can intelligently and automatically recommend if the student or staff member should stay home or attend school based on the provided answers will further streamline the process. Data from these screenings should be automatically compiled so school administrators can quickly see results, create robust reports, and have the visibility needed to make operational decisions.

Learning Loss

Remote learning has resulted in unfinished learning and/or learning loss for countless students. Tutoring and enrichment programs can drastically improve a student’s academic performance and help them return to grade level.  Volunteers can help with tutoring needs and many aspects of the enrichment programs, from fundraising and event/program coordination to chaperoning. These programs require schools have an efficient method to recruit and track each volunteer and confirm they are safe to work with students.

Student Mental Health

According to the U.S. Department of Education, some students in every school will need support to address the trauma, isolation, and anxiety they have experienced throughout the pandemic. It is important to think ahead and have the tools to respond to student trauma or student mental health crises. Schools need a comprehensive emergency management system with a mobile, discreet team assist ability that empowers teachers and staff to summon the right support and have access to protocols for any situation, including, for example, a positive COVID-19 case, a fight in the hallway, or a full-scale campus emergency with multiple first responder agencies.

Speak to a Safety Expert

We can help your school reopen safely with the technology you need to address the impact of the pandemic on students

Here’s what to expect:

  1. Fill out the form to request a consultation
  2. A member of our team will get in contact with you within 1 business day
  3. We will schedule a time most convenient for you

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Must-Haves for Your Reopening Plan

Within 30 days of receiving ARP ESSER funds, the school district must publish its plan for the safe return to in-person instruction and continuity of services on its website. The district is required to seek public comment on the plan before publishing the plan on its website. Your comprehensive reopening plan should include, but not be limited to, policies and procedures for the following:

Social, Emotional, and Mental Health

This includes building strong relationships with students, and providing them access to support from trusted staff members, school counselors, and psychologists.

Health Screening

Follow recommendations from the ED and require students and staff to be cleared before they leave their homes each school day.

Visitor Management and Contact Tracing

Use an automated visitor management system to automatically track—and record details of—each person who comes into and leaves your buildings.

Emergency Management and Response

With the growing concern of increased violence as schools reopen, staff need a reliable way to request the right level of response for any incident.

Social Distancing and Hygiene

Remove unused or unnecessary furniture and rearrange the classroom to allow for the proper physical distance.


Consider how many students should be on each bus and how you will ensure they will follow the recommended physical distancing protocols.


Leverage volunteers and tutors to help students with learning gaps. Require each volunteer/tutor to have a complete criminal background check.


Safely Reopen and Stay Open With the Right Partner

When choosing a partner, it’s just as important to pick the right company as it is the right products since the two will go hand-in-hand.

The Right Software Solutions

To address COVID-19’s impact on student and staff wellbeing and overall school safety, schools should consider an integrated software provider that incorporates visitor management, volunteer management, and emergency management into one user-friendly system.  

Raptor integrated school safety suite helps schools across the country address COVID-19’s impact so that they can focus on reopening and keeping their students, staff, and communities safe during—and well beyond—the pandemic. Raptor is considered an allowable expense for all ESSER funds.

Allowable Expense Raptor® Visitor Management Raptor® Emergency Management Raptor® Volunteer Management
Implementing CDC's K-12 mitigation strategies
Implementing system for contact tracing
Address learning loss with tutors and additional staff
Meet students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs
Maintain continuity of services (meals and technology) if you have an outbreak and have to close
Raptor icon

Download the Guide and Checklist!

Read our Guide today to learn best practices and recommendations that can help you mitigate COVID-19 risk while improving safety for all those in your buildings.

Districts are receiving an unprecedented amount of funding to address the impacts of COVID-19. When used strategically, these funds can help you with both COVID-19 mitigation and long-term safety needs.

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