UPDATE 10/20/21: The deadline for claiming funds has been extended to Dec. 31, 2021, with the ability to expend the funding for two calendar years afterward.
UPDATE 3/12/21: President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, formerly called the Heroes Act, on March 11. The act provides $130 billion in funding to support K-12 schools in safely reopening, nearly $40 billion for colleges and universities and $350 billion for government entities.
Similar in fashion to the CARES Act legislation, the American Rescue Plan provides emergency grant funds for entities to reopen – and remain open – despite the pandemic or any other emergent situation that arises as a result of the pandemic. In addition to the individual stimulus allocations, the funding is separated into various spending functions:
- Education (K-12 and higher education)
- Government (state, county and local municipal governments)
- Health and human services (hospitals, nursing homes and some qualifying day cares)
- Fraternal or promotional government-related authorities (chambers of commerce, convention and visitor bureaus, stadium authorities)
- Qualifying hospitality and spectator venues
American Rescue Plan Funding for Schools
The American Rescue Plan provides schools $170 billion in funding – more than five times the amount that was allocated through the CARES Act.
This funding is available in similar fashion to that of the CARES Act funding processes.
The key difference is the process by which K-12 institutions can claim their allocations. With K-12 institutions, the funding process will be distributed directly. In the original CARES Act, states were charged by the federal government to administer the funding for the CARES Act to K-12 institutions. The misconception was that if the CARES Act funding was unclaimed, that it could be directed back into the state to balance budgets.
During this time, state allocations to schools were reduced in some states in direct correlation to the CARES Act funding. This was not the intent of the funding, and the process for distribution of these funds to K-12 was debated for the American Rescue Plan.
Funding for higher education – directed to institutions through the Department of Education, Higher Education division – is divided into two categories: one half for student assistance, distance learning, training and other administrative costs. The other half allows for each individual institution to expend funds to enable institutions to re-open, and remain open, in a safe and secure fashion.
Each individual institution is vastly different from one another, and the perception of a safe and secure campus varies by each locale. With this legislation, just as it was with the CARES Act, Congress provides each institution with the decision-making flexibility for those leaders to determine what course of action is best for their individual schools.
The American Council on Education created a simulation of how the American Rescue Plan funds for higher education institutions might be distributed. Check how much funding your college or university may be eligible to receive.
American Rescue Plan Funding for Government Entities
There is a large allocation for government (state, local and municipal government entities) that should eliminate the need for states to flex the school funding as it did for K-12 through the CARES Act. The government allocation under the American Rescue Plan is $350 billion.
This funding will help enable state, local and municipal governments to not only balance their budgets, but also allow for the same protections in opening their facilities and keeping them open. The allocation will help facilities to combat the negative impact of COVID-19, as well as assist government entities in keeping their constituency, properties and assets safe in the future.
Using American Rescue Plan Funds to Enhance Health, Safety & Security
It’s important that all eligible organizations claim funding through the American Rescue Plan, as it can help them reopen, stay open and enhance health, safety and security on-site – a benefit that can last well beyond the global pandemic.
The deadline for claiming funds has been extended to Dec. 31, 2021, with the ability to expend the funding for two calendar years afterward.
As with the CARES Act, many life safety and security solutions qualify for funding under the American Rescue Plan. Creating a safe and secure environment means being able to mitigate health and safety risks by deploying solutions that, for example:
- Help with managing social distancing
- Allow entities to screen individuals for masks and potential health concerns
- Automate occupancy tracking
- Enhance emergency communications through mass notification or fire alarm signaling
Other measures of safety may include implementing intrusion detection, video surveillance, access control, fire alarms, visitor management systems, gunshot or weapons detection, or other means to help keep facilities and campus environments safe.
Additionally, as a reminder, Alyssa’s Law – a federal mandate requiring all public elementary and secondary schools be equipped with silent panic alert systems – is being drafted. While the legislation mandates the implementation of emergency communications, as of this writing, there is no plan to provide federal funding to implement this technology.
However, an educational institution could use American Rescue Plan funding to invest in an interoperable communication platform that allows for instantaneous communication from the classroom to first responders and law enforcement.
These are just examples of what can help make a school or campus environment safer for students and staff. There are other appliances that are necessary to combat COVID-19 and any other airborne infectants. Water purification systems, disinfectant and sprayers, and air purification systems are all part of making the instructional environment safer and healthier.
Helping Healthcare and Commercial Organizations Progress
Each healthcare facility across the U.S. has individual needs based upon how the entity operates. However, the need to screen employees and visitors, view and manage various gathering places within the facility and communicate seamlessly with emergency personnel are all common demands that American Rescue Plan funding can help satisfy.
Congress allocated $33.5 billion, which includes a new $8.5 billion as well as $25 billion that is rolled over from the CARES Act that has not yet been expended.
For commercial facilities, the IRS allowed for a 100% deduction in 2020 for the enhancements of life safety and security. It is unclear if the American Rescue Plan legislation will contain similar wording for 2021; however, the extension of the CARES Act through January 31, 2021, may indicate that this deduction could be extended until the end of December 2021.
Find a Partner to Help You Navigate the American Rescue Plan
We stand ready to consult with you and your institutions, businesses, healthcare facilities or governmental bodies to develop a life safety and security strategy that enables you to take advantage of the funding through the American Rescue Plan.
We can help your organization assess and respond to your security needs today, and help you plan for the future. Security consultants will work collaboratively with you and your administrative team and guide you through the process of identifying life safety and security vulnerabilities and identifying the various funding avenues available through the stimulus and beyond.
Let us help you prepare a plan that makes sense for your institution, and for the people you serve. Reach out to us for additional information, and to set up your consultation with an expert in the security industry.