How Schools Can Use American Rescue Plan Funding to Ensure Healthy, Resilient Facilities
Undaunted K12 and Center for Green Schools

In March 2021, President Biden signed into law the American Rescue Plan (ARP) Act, providing additional relief to address the continued impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.  The ARP provides $122 billion for new Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Fund awards to State Education Agencies (SEAs), which must allocate 90% of their funding to local educational agencies (LEAs). Two-thirds of the ESSER Fund allocations were made available to SEAs in March, so that they might immediately fund health and safety measures consistent with Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidance.  

The remaining third will become available after submission of a state application to ED with a plan that describes how ARP ESSER funds will be used to safely return students to in-person instruction, maximize in-person instruction time, operate schools, and meet the needs of students. State consultation with and input from stakeholders and the public is expected be an essential component of the process.  

The one-time nature of these funds makes them an excellent fit for durable investments in facilities that will provide long-term health benefits and financial savings. Undaunted K-12 joined with the Center for Green Schools at the U.S. Green Building Council to publish “Five Guiding Principles: How Schools Can Use American Rescue Plan Funding to Ensure Healthy, Resilient Facilities for Students and Reduce Energy Costs and Emissions.” This new guidance provides useful, actionable information for school districts as they consider how to use these relief funds to meet local needs. The resource identifies examples of school facility improvements as well as curriculum and training that both align with allowed uses and provide long-term benefits.

North American Association for Environmental Education

The hub for environmental education professional development and networking

COVID-19 Handbook
U.S. Department of Education

Consistent implementation of mitigation strategies during all school-related activities is critical for reopening schools -- and keeping them open. To that end, the Department released a COVID-19 Handbook, with implementation guidance, strategies, and considerations for the education community. The handbook is being released in two volumes. The first volume supplements CDC’s operational strategy with practical examples and roadmaps for educators and staff to implement CDC’s recommended safe practices for in-person learning -- archived presentation. Highlights include: • Masking Practices. • Physical Distancing Practices. • Effective Stakeholder Engagement.

Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Mitigation includes recommendations for–
•    Consistent implementation of a combination of strategies to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in schools, including consistent mask use; maintaining at least 6 feet of distance to the greatest extent possible; handwashing and respiratory etiquette; cleaning and maintaining healthy facilities; and carrying out contact tracing in combination with isolation and quarantine 
•    Recommended steps schools can follow depending on how COVID-19 is spreading in the community   
•    Indicators to reflect the level of COVID-19 in the community    
•    Vaccination for teachers, school staff, and in communities    
•    Testing to identify people infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 to limit transmission and outbreaks

Sustainability Design Standards
Albuquerque Public Schools

The Albuquerque School District has published their green building standards for planning, design and construction, online. The various standards are organized by product categories and each one references sustainability, including one specifically on the LEED V4 program requirements. The Design Standards are available for free in PDF, Microsoft Word, and Zip File formats.

Environmental Justice Program
University of Connecticut

Students at the University of Connecticut developed a website dedicated to learning about and taking action on Environmental Justice. The site provides definitions of what Environmental Justice means, famous examples of injustice and ways anyone can take action to help. This resource can be used to educate yourself or bring the conversation to your classroom.

Sample School Sustainability Policy
New Jersey School Board Association

The New Jersey School Board Association developed various sample sustainability and green initiative policy language. The compilation was put together by the NJSBA based on research from other districts, and is only a list of suggested best practices. These sample policies from nutrition to green cleaning can be edited to reflect your own school/district programs and practices.

Turning the Page: A Behavior Change Toolkit for Reducing Paper Use
AASHE & Root Solutions

The concepts, concrete examples, and tools in this guide will empower practitioners to more effectively target paper consumption behaviors at their institutions. Although this guide focuses on higher education institutions, the advice and examples provided can be applied by any organization looking to foster more sustainable behaviors. Our hope is that this guide gives you the background, inspiration, and confidence to ideate and implement the kinds of evidence-based behavior campaigns that can result in transformational impact at your organization.

Outdoor Learning Quick Reference Guide
Nature Based Education Consortium

This short guide highlights the importance of outdoor learning and provides great links to other valuable outdoor education resources. While the school stories and guidance included here is specific to implementing outdoor learning programs at schools in Maine, the resource and ideas can translate to any school setting.

Clean Energy Resolution 2020
Salt Lake City School District

In June 2020, the School Board at Salt Lake City School District signed a 100% clean energy resolution, seeking to create healthier, more environmentally sustainable schools, which includes the following goals:

1. to use 100 percent clean, renewable energy in its electricity sector by 2030; and

2. to meet 100% of all district operations energy needs with carbon neutral energy by 2040.

District Sustainability Page
Fayette County Public Schools

This is an example of a comprehensive district sustainability program webpage. It includes a green schools incentives program, manuals, a school scorecard, and more.

Comprehensive District Sustainability Webpage
Austin Independent Schoold District

This is an example of a robust district sustainability landing page. It covers energy, water, food, nature, waste, air quality, transportation, green schoolyards, Earth Week programming and more.

Sample Indoor and Outdoor Learning Environment Protocols During COVID-19
Boulder Valley School District

This guidance details protocols for both indoor and outdoor learning environments, emphasizing the advantages of outdoor learning, when possible.

Sample Letter to Principals Regarding Use of Outdoor Space during COVID and Beyond
Boulder Valley School District

This sample letter to principals offers resources, planning tools, and references related to using outdoor spaces for learning during COVID-19.

A Systems Approach to Reducing Consumer Food Waste
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

Approximately 30 percent of the edible food produced in the United States is wasted and a significant portion of this waste occurs at the consumer level. Despite food’s essential role as a source of nutrients and energy and its emotional and cultural importance, U.S. consumers waste an estimated average of 1 pound of food per person per day at home and in places where they buy and consume food away from home. Many factors contribute to this waste—consumers behaviors are shaped not only by individual and interpersonal factors but also by influences within the food system, such as policies, food marketing and the media. Some food waste is unavoidable, and there is substantial variation in how food waste and its impacts are defined and measured. But there is no doubt that the consequences of food waste are severe: the wasting of food is costly to consumers, depletes natural resources, and degrades the environment. In addition, at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic has severely strained the U.S. economy and sharply increased food insecurity, it is predicted that food waste will worsen in the short term because of both supply chain disruptions and the closures of food businesses that affect the way people eat and the types of food they can afford.

Race Against Waste Program
New York City Department of Education

The Race Against Waste program is a collaboration between New York City Department of Education Service in Schools (SIS) and the Office of Sustainability to support teams of teachers from middle and high schools in leading students through an investigation of waste in their community and developing a service-learning project that helps their community to reduce and reuse a source of waste.

You can still inspire your students and/or your own children to think sustainably and with a service mindset while they are learning at home. Check out the resources, as well as all of the materials from Race Against Waste, many of which can be used in remote learning.

Green Cleaning Training Video Series
Salt Lake City Unified School District

Salt Lake City School District green cleaning custodial training videos.

Guidance for K-12 Education on Responding to COVID-19
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine

An ad hoc committee will provide states and districts with guidance about whether and how to safely reopen schools in the 2020-2021 school year. The committee will write a short letter report drawing on evidence from epidemiology, public health, and the social and behavioral sciences. The report will provide guidance on the health-related issues for safely reopening schools and the practices that should be implemented in order to maintain and monitor the health of staff and students. The report will address questions that have emerged from the planning efforts of state and district officials which are currently underway.

Road Map for Return: K-12 Education
Perkins & Will

We aim to help schools and their communities successfully navigate the COVID-19 pandemic. Holistic health and well-being are our top priority. This site provides a compendium of strategies and resources for a safer return to school. They are applicable before reopening and throughout the academic year, and address the current health crisis as well as future challenges.

Thriving Schools
Kaiser Permanente

At Kaiser Permanente, we’re dedicated to helping meet the unique health needs of schools and communities. Thriving Schools takes a comprehensive approach to school health, curating the best thinking and guidance on how to keep students, staff, teachers, and families healthy across these dimensions of health. Kaiser Permanente has resources, guides, toolkits, case studies, and more that span different dimensions of health.

PK-12 Reopening Workbook
National Council on School Facilities

A detailed list of over 100 tasks organized according to achieving public health in schools objectives, that can be modified for individual state, district or school application.

Remote Learning Resources
PBL Works

During these unprecedented times and school closures, how can a PBL teacher keep students connected and engaged, so a project is just as powerful as what would be expected in their face-to-face classroom?

We created this resource to provide a host of ideas, examples, and tools that can help you answer this question.

Nature Time Adventure Videos
Beyond the Ferns

I'm Emily CW or Nature Emily, a naturalist and nature-based early childhood educator in New Hampshire. With recent school closures due to COVID-19 I started this channel to share outdoor exploration ideas, nature songs and games, and other inspiration for families learning from home. I hope that families and caregivers can use these activities as inspiration to kick start some super fun adventures. While the activities I share are great ways to get outside and explore, remember that there is no substitute for learning through play. So, get out there and have some fun!

Cleaning and Disinfection Guidance for Schools
New York State Department of Health

To help prevent spread of COVID-19, schools should continue to educate students, faculty and staff about proper hand and respiratory hygiene.

Classroom Cleaning Tips for Teachers
Washington State Department of Health

School custodial staff is responsible for cleaning schools. Some teachers choose to do additional cleaning. Here is how to ensure those efforts tackle dirt and germs safely and effectively.

Safer Choice & COVID-19 Compliant Product List
U.S. Environmental Protection Agency

EPA has released a list of registered antimicrobial products for use against COVID-19 along with information on how to check products against registration numbers.

Coronavirus Response Resources from ASHRAE and Others

Resources from ASHRAE and others on buildings, filtration/ disinfection, transportation, and reopening.