Navigating CARES Funding for Educational Technology and Sanitization

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Keeping students learning and safe in the midst of a pandemic doesn’t come cheap. Alabama has allocated $100 million for a public-private partnership to increase internet access for K-12 students who may need internet service for distance learning. Tennessee has provided $50 million to support technology grants for Wi-Fi devices, laptops, or any other devices required to support reopening. To protect the health and safety of students, Dearborn Schools spent almost $40,000 deep cleaning a single elementary school where a staffer tested positive for COVID-19, reports the Detroit Free Press.

To cover the costs to overcome barriers created by the pandemic, schools across the U.S. have started to tap into the funding set aside by the federal government in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. However, in several states, CARES funds are being used to make up for state cuts in education due to tax revenue loss. Schools are now facing a funding crisis with significant budget shortfalls exacerbated by increased pandemic-related costs. Because 15% - 25% budget shortfalls are expected for districts in 2020-21, it’s more critical than ever to make strategic funding decisions and find innovative ways to get more out of stretched budgets. 

What is ESSER?

The CARES Act created the $30.75 billion Education Stabilization fund for State educational agencies (SEAs) to spend on education and education technology. Of which $13.5 billion went to The Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief (ESSER) Funds to provide local educational agencies (LEAs), including charter schools that are LEAs, with emergency relief to address the impact that COVID-19 has had and continues to have on schools across the nation. According to FutureEd, “Another $3 billion goes to the Governors Emergency Education Relief Fund (GEER), which governors can use for ‘significantly impacted’ school districts or higher education institutions.”

The deadline for LEAs to apply for funds is dependent on your state. Note that SEAs can use ESSER funds for allowable expenditures incurred on or after March 13, 2020. Reach out to the federal programs officer in your district to discuss your school’s specific funding allotment. Communication is key to the strategic procurement of edTech solutions.

Leveraging ESSER Allocations to Support Students

District administrators across the country, like Oklahoma’s State Superintendent of Public Instruction Joy Hofmeister, are preparing for options to bridge the digital divide. “Recognizing the significant learning loss that has resulted from the pandemic, it will be important that districts leverage their ESSER allocations to support students in regaining lost academic ground,” Hofmeister said.

The law allows districts to spend CARES Act ESSER funds on a broad range of activities, as long as they fall within the dozen allowable uses related to COVID-19. As school districts continue to determine the best way to spend their money, many are focusing on these two allowable uses:

  • Purchasing supplies to sanitize and clean the facilities of a local educational agency, including buildings operated by such agency.
  • Purchasing CARES Act specific educational technology (including hardware, software, and connectivity) for students who are served by the local educational agency that aids in regular and substantive educational interaction between students and their classroom instructors.

How Innovative LocknCharge Solutions Can Help

LocknCharge solutions help in two areas of activity that are eligible for ESSER funds and emergency education grants, distance learning technology and sanitizing equipment.

1. Distance Learning: Funds can be used to cover technology costs related to distance/remote learning.

Automate device management for break/fix programs: From cracked screens to malfunctioning cameras, device damage is common. Retrieving those broken devices and providing replacements quickly and safely is a challenge all school IT teams face whether learning is remote or in-person. The San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) faced this break/fix obstacle head-on earlier this year. Previously, each time device support was needed, a team member had to be physically onsite. Triaging the issue would gobble up a minimum of 15 minutes from the Help Desk’s schedule–not to mention the growing wait time for a tech person to become available.

SFUSD strategically placed four LocknCharge FUYL Tower Smart Lockers at a central location where they could be accessed beyond regular office hours and even on weekends. Each bay is equipped with one ready-to-go device, simplifying the process of distributing and maintaining devices without the need for any face-to-face interaction or Help Desk interruption. Device deployment was shortened from as many as five days to as little as one day for an 80% reduction in device downtime.

Zero human interaction device management: Managing the distribution of mobile devices without human interaction is a new requirement as part of social distancing. LocknCharge can help facilitate a zero-touch model for deploying and maintaining mobile devices for your students and faculty, ensuring continual access to a ready-to-go device. One way to eliminate in-person contact is to set up pickup/drop-off IT exchange hubs with secure smart lockers. With our robust online management portal for FUYL Tower, IT Admins can manage smart lockers remotely. Teachers, students and parents place devices in a compartment at a scheduled time; staff then tracks the activity to see when the compartment was accessed, reset PINs, open doors or quarantine doors.

Whether the students in your district are learning online, in-person or a combination of both, learn how to best navigate educational technology for each option.

2. Equipment: Funds can be used to cover costs of sanitizing buildings and equipment.

Managing classroom bacteria can be a challenge for teachers and administrators focused on back-to-school safety. Devices can be sanitized using UVone UV-C disinfection to prevent the spread of bacteria. Decrease time spent by teachers sanitizing devices because UVone devices work in just 30 seconds, making them six times quicker than traditional wipes.

Save Time and Money with Future-Proof Technology Solutions

Despite the ESSER allocations, limited resources will likely challenge every school for many years to come. So it may seem logical to evaluate technology based on price alone. However, by thinking bigger upfront and investing for years to come, you can save significant time and money in the long run.

Your chosen products must combine universal charging, open-concept designs and durability, to implement a future-proof charging program successfully. If the product claims to flex with your tech plans but isn’t durable enough to last, you will fall short of your goals. On the flip side, if a charging solution is so durable that it lasts a lifetime but no longer suits your needs, that product cannot be part of your long-term strategy.

Ready to Learn More?

As your partner, we’re standing by to help you navigate ESSER funding for educational technology and sanitization and ensure your investment will be a good one for many years to come. Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge Customer Success Manager to see our products in action and find the right solution for managing your mobile devices.

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Supporting Digital Transformation in the Workplace and Schools: Spiceworks Webinar

Webinar Overview

Leading up to the 2020 calendar year, many business and schools were humming along through a carefully planned digital transformation–but due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the speed of that transformation was thrust into high gear. Most schools were forced to go 1:1 so that each student possesses a device for virtual learning. And with employees working remotely, in many cases a laptop or tablet has become a necessity for doing business

This webinar is to demonstrate how LocknCharge is leading and innovating by connecting our 20 years of hardware experience to our new LocknCharge Cloud platform. By combining world-class hardware with software, we are helping our customers execute their digital transformation projects.

The two products focused on during this webinar are the FUYL Tower Smart Lockers powered by LocknCharge Cloud and UVone, the most functional and unique device sanitization product on the market.





Over the years, we’ve spent a significant amount of time with our customers in the early stages of their digital transformation projects, and we’ve learned why our products are an important part of their mobile device workflows:

  • Our products can help simplify mobile device loaner and break/fix programs
  • IT Departments appreciate the self-service check in/check out of a mobile device
  • Our UV sanitization solution is quick, touchless and offers 360-degree disinfection, which is unmatched by any product in the market.
  • We help automate workflows that were once paper based
  • We see an improved end user experience which helps speed up the adoption and scale of mobile device programs
  • Organizations trust LocknCharge to secure company-owned mobile devices

We’ve also learned that our customers embrace workplace mobilization for three key reasons:

  1. To improve their internal and external communications
  2. To process transactions faster, whether it be an order through a fast food drive through or a job order for a field engineer at an energy company
  3. To eliminate the expensive and tedious manual or paper processes

A significant takeaway is that each of these are goals can improve your company’s internal operations and customer interactions. This suggests the real reason why so many companies are mobilizing in every sector is that mobility benefits everyone.

A quick example of this is a customer of ours using iPads paired with charging stations to go paperless in the workplace. This is what Inflight Pilot Training out of Minneapolis did to cut back on 40,000 pages of flight manuals by combining our FUYL Smart Locker and iPads. 

As the workplace continues to become more efficient, let’s now discuss and demonstrate one of the most recent trends of how to efficiently keep mobile devices clean throughout the day.


uvone on table

Our newest product, UVone, is a rapid, UV-C disinfection station for phones, tablets and other hand-held items. With nothing else like this on the market, UVone is unique because it is zero-touch, offers 360-degree disinfection and reduces bacteria by 99.999%* in just 30 seconds. Our original customer base for UVone was hospitals and clinics to help them transition away from cleaning mobile devices with wipes, which is time consuming and wasteful.  

We’ve learned that the most common solution to disinfecting mobile devices is an alcohol-based wipe. These wipes are expensive when compared to UVone. A single wipe costs 4 to 5 cents, not to mention the downstream costs of increased use of gloves and the sheer amount of waste created by using wipes. UVone has 16 long-lasting, UV-C bulbs enclosed behind glass. When used in Manual Cycle Mode, customers can expect 25,000 hours of bulb life which is about 3M uses, equating to well below one penny per use. UVone’s 30 second disinfection, combined with a low cost per use, proves a significant return on investment.

As companies adapt and learn how to reopen, we see a new workflow in the digital transformation such as taking temperatures with automated kiosks when an employee arrives at the office, washing hands and prioritizing cleaning. The CDC recommends that you disinfect the surfaces that you are most frequently in contact with, which we are in constant contact with our mobile device surfaces.

UVone fits perfectly into this new clean workflow and we are seeing significant demand from companies looking to deploy UVone in their lobbies, hallways, locker rooms and break rooms.

Let’s take a look at how UVone works. First is a demonstration showing UVone versus wipes. You’ll see that UVone not only saves time but eliminates an incredible amount of waste.

In the 2nd demonstration, we demonstrate how simple UVone is to use.

And finally, the third video shows how the Denver Broncos are utilizing UVone as part of their new normal for their COVID 19 Back to Work Initiative.

As you can see, UVone can be used in a variety of settings–from checking in at a lobby to a healthcare environment. The internal cavity is 10.5” x 1.5” x 7.25”, and as you see it can fit an iPad or you can combine smaller devices to disinfect.

The UVone can sit on a counter, mount on a rolling stand, or wall mount with the VESA-compatible mounting kit that is included.

FUYL Tower

The FUYL Tower comes in two sizes, a 5 bay and a 15 bay. Each bay has one 2.4 amp USB port and one 110V main power outlet. Both products have an optional network kit that that allows you to add your own switch, so you can remotely image laptops inside each bay.

Let’s start off our Smart Locker tour with a 2-minute video explaining our system, then we’ll dive into two workflow demonstrations.

Workflow 1 – Break/Fix

Break/Fix is a workflow that many of you may be very familiar with. Take a moment and imagine you oversee your company’s Break/Fix Program, and you’re faced with this scenario:

It is 6:00 AM, and you get an urgent ServiceNow ticket. It comes from a Maintenance Team Lead in one of your manufacturing facilities two hours away. The maintenance laptop is down, and in order to keep the manufacturing facility up and running, you need to get a replacement laptop to the Maintenance Team Lead ASAP. Because you oversee your company’s Break/Fix Program, and it is Saturday morning, you get the privilege of driveing to your IT Break/Fix Depot, get a new laptop, image that laptop and then hop in your car for a two-hour drive to the manufacturing facility. You swap out the devices to ensure business is back up and running.

 In this story, which we hear variations of on a consistent basis, we start to think of how our Smart Locker System can help reduce your companies lost productivity and decrease your labor costs.

Let’s show what it could look like if you had a FUYL Smart Locker with devices ready to go and how simple this Break/Fix workflow is with LocknCharge Cloud.

The first screen when logged into our portal is a dashboard which displays the stations you have connected to your account. Here is where you can organize the stations into groups if you like so that you can cascade Tower settings to multiple towers at one time to manage them more efficiently.

One part of our platform that is important in running a Break/Fix program is Users. This is where you’ll manage who has access to a station or a specific bay. As an example, someone with a broken device can exchange it for a new device inside the FUYL Smart Locker, which was assigned for him/her.

Workflow 2 – Daily Check Out/Check In 

The City of Toronto Water Department needed a self-service, central point of distribution for their mobile workforce. They had two key requirements in getting their employees to really embrace their mobile device program.

  • The devices need to be checked out with existing RFID badges
  • They always needed the devices to be secured when not in use

In this workflow, each morning the device is loaded with the job orders for the day, the field engineer goes up to the FUYL Tower Smart Locker, taps their badge to check out an assigned device from a bay that they have been assigned to. The employee grabs the device, heads out to work, then checks it back into the same bay at the end of a shift.  Our Cloud enables Tower Administrators to know who opened the door and when, significantly reducing the opportunity for missing devices and simplifying their workflow.

Our Cloud Software comes in 3 tiers – Admin, Managed and Integrated. Most of our customers today are choosing Managed or Integrated. Integrated allows for you to bring the power of FUYL Smart Lockers into your existing IT infrastructure through API and webhooks.

Schedule a Live Product Demo

Schedule a live video demo with a LocknCharge team member to get a closer look at how our products help make your life easier.

*LocknCharge's kill rate claims are based on data conducted by an accredited, GLP compliant, BSL-2 laboratory. Kill rate claims for MRSA at a 5-log kill or 99.999% are based on final GLP testing. Kill rate claims for C. Diff are at a 4-log kill or 99.99% in 60 seconds and a 3-log kill or 99.9% in 30 seconds. C. Diff results are based on final GLP testing. Real world results may vary. Testing data available upon request.“

Exclusive offer mentioned during this recorded webinar is available only for those who attended the live Spiceworks webinar.

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San Francisco USD Department of Technology Develops Plan for Safe and Successful Device Deployment in a COVID World

The Story

Like many school districts across the United States, the San Francisco Unified School District (SFUSD) is starting the 2020-21 school year remotely. The Department of Technology (DoT) for the SFUSD has made it their mission to prepare nearly 5,000 educators (over 400 of whom are new to the district) in all aspects of a digital classroom–from both a hardware and software perspective. Every minute leading up to the school year was critical to their readiness, as students’ education continues to hang in the balance.


Safety Concerns
In preparing for the new remote school year, the health and safety of SFUSD’s teachers and the DoT staff were a top priority. At the outset, every time a teacher needed a new device or to exchange an old one, they would stop by the Help Desk Office in-person and interact with an on premises team member. Although they did everything they could to avoid in-person contact, the sheer volume of traffic was putting everyone involved at increased risk.

Staffing Concerns
Each time this type of device support was needed, a team member had to be physically onsite. Triaging the issue would gobble up a minimum of 15 minutes from the Help Desk’s schedule–not to mention the growing wait time for a tech person to become available. Whether a teacher is new to the district or a current teacher’s device needs repair, it’s imperative that teachers can access a working device as quickly as possible.

Teacher Training Needs
In order for teachers to prepare for a new way of digital teaching, they needed more time and increased Help Desk support to learn new software and be trained on best practices for remote teaching. Constant interruptions due to device deployment and hardware issues took valuable time away from the DoT team’s ability prepare teachers for their new digital classroom.

Preparing for Success

In order to streamline these challenges, SFUSD strategically placed four LocknCharge FUYL Tower Smart Lockers at the district’s centrally-located main office where it could be accessed beyond normal office hours and even on weekends. Each bay is equipped with one ready-to-go device, which simplified the process of distributing and maintaining devices to 3 easy steps without the need for any face-to-face interaction or Help Desk interruption.

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3 Easy Steps for Device Distribution


A teacher in need of a device notifies the Help Desk through its ticketing system.


Within 1 business day, a FUYL Tower bay is assigned to the teacher.


The teacher retrieves the device with their 6-digit PIN and is ready to go.

“[FUYL Towers] are keeping our mission-critical team members safe and free from public interactions while effectively deploying hundreds of educator devices.”

– David Malone, Executive Director of Technology and Innovation for San Francisco Unified School District

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The Outcomes

  • 1,200 devices are being deployed via FUYL Towers to NEW teachers joining the district and returning para educators.
  • Zero physical human contact for distribution services ensures the safety of DoT staff and educators.
  • There is no difficult scheduling for device pickups or dropoffs, and hours of access are greatly increased.
  • Device deployment was shortened from as many as five days to as few as one day.
  • With LocknCharge Cloud, the Help Desk can track who retrieved a device from a Tower and when.
  • The Help Desk recovered valuable time needed to focus on teacher training.

An Uncertain Future

It’s impossible to know what the future of education will look like one month from now or even one year from now, which makes putting a back to school safety plan in place very difficult. Should schools switch to a hybrid model or an in-person model, the FUYL Tower is flexible enough to remain an extremely useful tool in any scenario:

  • LocknCharge Cloud offers a streamlined way to expand the program to include student devices.
  • Devices can continue to be deployed with zero contact to new teachers or students extremely quickly.
  • Towers can be used as a repair pick-up/drop-off point to keep device downtime to a minimum.
  • Towers can easily be switched to “Public Mode” to be used as public charging stations throughout the school. This is especially helpful for 1:1 take-home device programs because students who forget to charge their device at home will be able to securely charge their device at school.
  • Towers can be placed in areas such as Family Resources Centers or other indoor spaces to allow the community easier access to devices as needed.
  • Students with housing insecurity are offered a place to safely charge and store their devices overnight.

Download a PDF of this Case Study

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: Student sees the importance of technology downtime at Peace Lutheran College

Tyra, Boarding Student at Peace Lutheran College, sees the importance of technology downtime to help with sleep, learning and social life and how the FUYL Tower has helped achieve this.

Tyra explains how having devices charged and ready to use at all times is important especially for boarding students to contact family, but also outlines that having charged devices is important as learning is technology based. Having the FUYL Tower has helped students become more independent and responsible by having control over their devices. This includes having devices returned during the specified curfew times and having devices charged and ready to use when needed.

“Before the FUYL Tower, everyone would be on their technology and not socializing with each other.”
- Tyra, Boarding Student at Peace Lutheran College

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LocknCharge Customer Voices: FUYL Tower has stopped the unauthorized access of devices at Peace Lutheran College

Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College, explains how the LocknCharge FUYL Tower has helped stop unauthorized access to devices by boarding students outside of allocated hours.

Prior to the FUYL Tower, students would be using devices at all times of the day and night. The school struggled to keep student devices charged and secured. Now each student has an RFID enabled student card which is used to access their allocated locker. The Curfew feature means that students no longer have access to their devices during the curfew specified times.

“Our previous solution was literally a wardrobe with a chain around it. We were finding that students were getting out of bed at 2 o’clock in the morning and getting their iPads out. Putting the FUYL Tower has really stopped all that.”

- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College
“LocknCharge is a trusted partner of Peace Lutheran College. Always of high quality. One of the great features is being able to speak to the team at LocknCharge. They work with us very closely to customize the product to make it the best fit for the school environment.”
- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College
“The FUYL Towers by LocknCharge have just made life so much easier here.”
- Rob Armstrong, Head of ICT at Peace Lutheran College

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