Q&A: Maximizing your school’s COVID relief funds for IT


Using CARES Act funding to manage 1:1 student computers 

Managing a school’s IT strategy, security, and infrastructure is no walk in the park even in the most pedestrian of times – which makes tackling this through a pandemic something entirely herculean. Tell you something you don’t know, right?  

To again tell you something you likely already know, there has been more than 200 billion dollars of federal COVID-19 relief funds aimed at aiding education systems. The Coronavirus Aid Relief and Security (CARES) Act, Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSAA), and the American Rescue Plan (ARP) have each made huge sums of money available to help states and school districts continue their education efforts. Each Act dedicated a portion of the overall funding to K-12 schools (Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief or ESSER funds) and Higher Ed (Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund or HEERF).  What you may not know, is that getting these funds approved for your desired IT solution can be quite simple. 

In general, funds must be directed towards promoting student health and academic success. That’s an intentionally wide swim lane, which, as you’re about to read, is something that works in your favor when it comes to securing relief funds for your school’s IT operations. 

Getting COVID relief funds approved for technology in schools

Ok. So, over 600 schools are already using SmartDeploy because it makes sense from a logistical standpoint – saving you and your team hours on reimaging student and faculty computers and lab refresh projects, and enabling your time and brain power to be directed elsewhere – but how do you go about justifying computer imaging software when it comes to COVID relief funds?  

To help, we sat down with SmartDeploy Senior Business Development Representative, Jarred Sabo, to discuss what he’s learned in recent discussions with K-12 and HigherEd IT departments about how schools are using COVID relief funds to purchase software. 

How Have our Customers used COVID Funds?

Jarred: “In previous years, education IT departments typically have had a restricted budget. We often see them only purchasing endpoint management solutions to do summer lab refreshes or new hardware rollouts. A lot of schools are forced into using a free tool- which can require a trained specialist, not to mention use a ton of time and manpower. Now that many schools have moved to a 1-to-1 computer to student ratio and have also received these additional funds, these tools have moved to the top of the priority list and are saving valuable IT hours and increasing endpoint security, especially on student devices.” 

How can IT Admins Secure Cares Act Funds for Software?

Jarred: “A K-12 IT director in California recently explained to me that it was quite simple to get their SmartDeploy purchase approved. He let me know that his school board only wanted about 3 to 4 sentences, explaining the need for the software. The customer broke it down into two justifications: faster deployment of new devices for staff and students; and that all devices need to be up to date for security reasons. He recommended to make the focus on the kids and the learning opportunities- that’s how he got the purchase approved.”

Why should Schools Consider SmartDeploy?

Jarred: “A huge benefit of SmartDeploy is zero-touch Windows deployment, app deployment, and PC management via the school network or the cloud. With many schools turning to hybrid learning, IT needs more than a basic one-project tool. They need something that can provide ongoing management for both on-site and remote endpoints.” 

“In addition, most schools have different hardware models between students, staff, and labs. SmartDeploy provides pre-built driver packs, making it easy to manage a diverse set of hardware models, even from multiple manufacturers.” 

What about Schools with Limited IT Resources?

Jarred: “Every single K-12 district IT team I talk to is stretched thin. When I tell them that most IT admins can set up and start using SmartDeploy in a day, there is a sigh of relief I can feel through the phone, peppered with a healthy amount of skepticism, of course. Once they download the trial and start digging in, they can quickly see that the intelligence behind the product is like adding another tech to their team and the POC runs smoothly from there.”  

“For budget purposes, we already have discounted EDU pricing for all K-12 and higher ed institutions which will apply even when CARES funds are being used. Many schools have also negotiated 3 or 5-year subscriptions, enabling their CARES Act funds to reach even further.”

Try SmartDeploy Endpoint Management in your School

When you’re dealing with the monumental task of managing a school’s IT systems during a pandemic, finding ways to effectively and efficiently save time in your operations is an obvious must. But don’t just take my word for it. Take Brian’s. Or Utah Valley University’s. Or the Menasha Joint School District’s. Better yet, head on over to smartdeploy.com/campus and see why our solution is top-rated and trusted by more than 600 schools nationwide.  

If it takes you longer than 15 minutes to image a computer or your existing toolset is unreliable, let us to take you through a guided demo. Or, if you’re more the pioneering type, download and try SmartDeploy today.