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CARES Act Funding and Standardized Plans for Outdoor Learning

Updated: Sep 10, 2021

Blog Series #4

Schools across California are facing unprecedented challenges as they figure out how to navigate the impacts of COVID-19 and physical distancing requirements in order to allow students to return to campus. There is an urgent need for PreK-12 classrooms to adapt in order to safely reopen. Repurposing outdoor spaces is a way to reduce the burden on indoor classrooms while providing fresh air, hands-on learning opportunities, and the health benefits associated with increased access to nature.

In our last BLOG post, "Getting Started with Outdoor Learning", we shared some low cost temporary and long term permanent solutions as well as shade and seating solutions for outdoor learning. We also shared some learning pod design ideas based on school sizes and needs. Today we want to show how to develop Outdoor Classroom Standardized Plans which will help School Districts when estimating costs and figuring out funding for these outdoor classroom upgrades.

Outdoor Learning Standardized Plans

We are currently working with School Districts throughout California to develop Outdoor Learning Standardized Plans. We have designs for small group break out areas, 50% Classroom capacity, 70% Classroom capacity and 100% Classroom Capacity. Our designs include considerations for social distancing and recommended cohort sizes from the California Department of Public Health.

Click HERE to see more Outdoor Learning plans on our webpage "Social Distance Approved Designs - LEARN"!


CARES Act Funding

Congress dedicated some of it's $2 trillion March stimulus package, known as the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act or, CARES Act, to supporting education, including $13.2 billion for K-12 schools. One of the allowable uses of the $13.2 billion in the package's K-12 relief fund is it provides principals and others school leaders with the resources necessary to address the needs of their individual schools for COVID related expenses. California schools received at total of $1.6 Billion to be allocated based on an LEA’s share of funding received under Title I, Part A in FY 2019–20. Half of the funding CA gets goes to K-12 schools that are categorized as “concentration” districts (districts where at least 55% of students enrolled are high-needs). The CARES Act money needs to be allocated by December 31, 2020 and must be spent by September 2022.


If your school has been allocated CARES Act funds you might be able to apply some of your relief funds towards these Outdoor Classroom upgrades!



How We Can Help You!

CONTACT US today to request standard designs for your School District and to see if you can utilize our cooperative purchasing agreements and CARES Act funds for your outdoor classroom upgrades.


Resources on Outdoor Learning

Want to learn more about the National COVID-19 Outdoor Learning Initiative? Green Schoolyards America has some wonderful resources compiled on their website HERE.

Green Schoolyards America has many great ideas and tools to help guide schools as they think about using outdoor classrooms to safely reopen. Here is an article they posted talking about how outdoors could become the new classroom in the COVID era.

Teaching outside might not be a cure-all, but it can help districts safely open their doors to students. Green Schoolyards America are working overtime to build a comprehensive library of no-cost resources to guide schools in identifying and creating outdoor learning spaces. CLICK HERE to read this article!

Photos Courtesy of UC Berkeley Lawrence Hall of Science



More BLOGS in our Series

"Inspirational Design Ideas for the Pandemic and Beyond"

CLICK Images Below to view our previous BLOGS:

Check back soon for more Inspirational BLOGS!

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Emily Florence
Emily Florence
Jan 24, 2023

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