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Using CARES & ARP Funds for School Safety and Video Surveillance Upgrades

May 04, 2021


In 2020 and 2021, the U.S. government has distributed billions of dollars in relief funds to help schools manage the many challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Schools have a lot of flexibility in how these federal funds can be used, and many schools are investing in campus safety improvements to prepare for a safe return to in-person learning.

In this post, we’ll go over what funds schools can expect to receive, how relief money can be used, and how video security solutions like Rhombus can help schools make in-person learning safer with COVID-19 prevention features and long-term campus safety tools.

What Relief Funds Are Schools Receiving?

The most recent stimulus plan is the American Rescue Plan of 2021 (ARP), passed in March 2021. This plan provides K-12 schools with $129 billion in relief funds and college and universities with a separate $40 billion. This follows the CARES Act and CRRSA Act of 2020, which together distributed around $67.8 billion.

In total, the stimulus bills and relief programs provide about $4000 per student, though the exact amount varies greatly from district to district. States and districts that serve low-income students are receiving more funding per student.

How Can Schools Use Relief Funding?

Schools have a lot of freedom in how they can use relief funding. Restrictions include:

  • State education agencies (SEAs) must reserve 5% to address learning loss, 1% for afterschool activities, and 1% for summer learning programs.
  • Local education agencies (LEAs) must reserve 20% of funding to address learning loss.

Other than those restrictions, schools are free to allocate funds at their own discretion. Because school districts have until late 2024 to spend the relief money, administrators have enough time to be thoughtful and deliberate in how they use the funds.


Using Funds to Make In-Person Learning Safer with Rhombus

Many schools are using relief funds to prepare for a safe return to in-person learning on campus. The good news is schools have plenty of flexibility in deciding how to go about this. The challenge is, how do you strike a balance between using the funds to address immediate needs, and providing long-term value to your school, students, and faculty?

For many schools, Rhombus' video security solution is an effective two-pronged approach to this challenge. Rhombus provides smart security cameras with a unified platform that's ideal for schools who want a system that's powerful, but easy to use.

With Rhombus, you can support your school's short and long-term needs with:

  1. Tools & features that immediately help combat the spread of COVID-19.
  2. Reliable and future-proof video surveillance that’s much more effective than traditional systems.

Above all, Rhombus is dedicated to the safety of your students, teachers, and staff. We're here to help you get through the challenges of today to help you thrive tomorrow.

COVID-19 Prevention with Rhombus

Rhombus provides AI-enhanced features that help you prevent the spread of COVID-19 and keep your students, teachers, and staff safe. These features include:

  • Mask/PPE Detection – Automatically identify if individuals are wearing face masks and receive live alerts if masks are not detected.
  • Face Match & Activity Search for Contact Tracing – Speed up investigations with advanced people filters, including facial recognition, to improve contact tracing.
  • Maximum Occupancy Alerts – Enforce safe social distancing with crowd monitoring and immediate alerts when an area reaches maximum occupancy.
  • Heat Mapping – Identify and monitor high-movement and high-touch areas to reduce risk and plan effective cleaning schedules.
  • Air Quality Sensors – Monitor air quality with integrated environmental sensors like the HALO Smart Sensor, which also includes the ability to detect vape, smoke, and THC.

Rhombus helps you be proactive about school security and COVID-19 prevention by monitoring your environments 24/7 and sending real-time notifications to any device.

You can also leverage Rhombus' open platform to seamlessly integrate with your preferred business systems—including best-in-class access control solutions.


Long-Term Benefits with Rhombus

Rhombus is dedicated to supporting you not only now, but also as your school’s needs evolve over time. As an enterprise cloud solution, Rhombus features future-proof system architecture to provide long-term campus safety in a simple, secure, and cost-effective approach. Here's how:

  • Intuitive, easy-to-use VMS – Complex processes are at work under the hood, but the Rhombus interface is designed to be simple and intuitive for anyone to use with no technical experience required.
  • Video security that gets smarter over time – Leverage AI-enhanced features—like facial recognition, advanced search filters, and proactive real-time alerts—that get smarter the longer they're in use. This ensures that your system gets more effective every day without you having to lift a finger.
  • No more manual maintenance – Spend less time, money, and labor over your system’s lifetime thanks to uncompromising reliability, automatic updates, and automatic system health monitoring.
  • Create safer spaces with real-time visibility from anywhere – Remotely manage unlimited devices and locations from a unified platform for greater security and operational efficiency.
  • Secure and reliable school video security – Rhombus was created by cybersecurity veterans who designed an ultra-secure video security solution that eliminated the vulnerabilities found in existing systems. With Rhombus, schools receive industry-leading security features, including end-to-end encryption, two-factor authentication, and routine third-party security audits by leading firms to ensure your data is always protected.


The past year has been filled with unprecedented challenges for schools and making up for it will take time. Federal relief funding is available until 2024 and the funds can help jump-start school recovery and accelerate necessary upgrades.

If you're interested in using Rhombus to help secure your school and make in-person learning safer, request a free trial or reach out to The Rhombus team is dedicated to supporting schools and making teachers students, and staff safer every day.

For more on choosing a school video security solution, read: How to Choose the Right Video Surveillance System for Education.


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