Between the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) and the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act funding, schools have more money at their disposal to address student health and wellness needs during the 2020-21 school year.
Educators have successfully applied for both ESSA and CARES funding to add IHT ZONE heart rate monitors to their health and physical education curriculums.
Schools use the heart rate monitors in a variety of ways, including:
- on-campus PE programs to teach essential exercise habits;
- off-campus or online PE programs to keep students connected to vital feedback; and
- emotional self-regulation programs that teach students to use heart rate to control emotions including anger and anxiety.
Why PE Must Remain a School Priority
In the same way schools provide students with iPads or Chromebooks to connect to classes such as English, math, science or social studies, PE teachers see the IHT ZONE as a way for students to continue to get physical activity that’s vital to their academic development and success.
“One of my jobs is to promote physical activity before, during, and after school,” Douglas County (Colo.) School District Healthy Schools Coordinator Laurie LaComb said. “We truly try to connect it to brain functioning and learning. This is a great way to get kids up into that moderate and vigorous level where most of the research behind the effects on brain functioning.”
Accessing A Local District’s Federal Allocation
Prior to the Covid-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Education announced its 2020-21 ESSA allocations. The three elements of ESSA (Title I-A, Title II and Title IV-A) most closely associated with student health and wellness provided approximately $19.6 billion to state education agencies. State agencies then passed the funding along to the local districts for their use.
School districts from Texas to Colorado and beyond have accessed ESSA funding to add IHT’s technology. They see the federal funding as a grant that allows them to provide students with tools they believe are necessary to help physical, emotional and academic development.
“Studies have shown that the more active you are, the smarter you’re going to be in the classroom,” said IDEA Public Schools PE teacher Jermaine Brown, one of the teachers that uses the Spirit System to analyze student heart rate data. “This data will help us get the scholars where they need to be.”
When the federal government enacted the CARES Act, states received another $13 billion to be used for education-related costs. Additionally, the CARES Act provided even more funding – approximately $30 billion – to states through the Governor’s Emergency Education Relief Fund.
One California educator wasted no time requesting – and getting – a portion of that money for an online PE program. The school had already purchased IHT ZONE monitors for on-campus learning. The success motivating students to stay active proved key in the decision to purchase more for online use.
“After we initially ordered the IHT monitors and saw a difference in our PE class with improved motivation, this conversation was easy,” the teacher said.
Putting Federal Funding into Action
All of the teacher’s ninth and tenth-grade students now have monitors to wear when they exercise on their own. The monitors help students manage their effort and also enable the teacher to assess student performance.
“This will be much better,” she said. “With the incentive of the heart rate monitor, they must use it and it’s a daily assignment. They have to be active for at least 20 minutes a day, and I want to see that they are working. They know what they need to do. It’s not teacher-centered. They do it on their own.”
Some teachers, to stay on the radar of the funding offices who helped them with their applications, make sure administrators and grant managers see the technology motivates the students. In Humble ISD (Texas), PE/Wellness Coordinator Helen Wagner invited the director of federal programs, Dr. Jamie Bryson, to see students with their IHT ZONE monitors.
“I invited Dr. Bryson to come see the new product and she was delighted to get that chance,” Wagner said. “She loved that.”
In McAllen ISD (Texas), PE Coordinator Mario Reyna takes a similar approach with his funding office. He appreciates the help and guidance that led to funding, and he makes sure that State and Federal Programs Director Anjanette Gonzalez-Garza knows he’s grateful.
“I always make sure I include my stakeholder,” he said. “We were featured in a ‘Momentum’ story by SHAPE America, and I included a quote from her. I make sure they see that. I don’t know about other people, but when you give me money, I’m going to show my appreciation.”