Biden puts $10B behind COVID testing to reopen schools
The $10 billion Joe Biden pumped into K-12 COVID Wednesday testing shows “help is truly on the way” in keeping students and teachers safe in classrooms, a union leader says.
While testing offers the best defense against the spread of COVID, the process of administering tests, sending them to labs and collecting results was beyond the resources of many school districts, Randi Weingarten, president of the American Federation of Teachers, said in a statement.
“Testing is critical in stopping virus spread before it becomes an outbreak, in helping us see the asymptomatic cases that may otherwise go unseen,” Weingarten sid in a statement. “We urge every school district to use these funds to implement a testing plan, which is a major step in reopening our school buildings, keeping them open and ensuring our students are in the classroom.”
The Centers for Disease Control had previously cited COVID testing as a key part of any district’s comprehensive plan for reopening safely.
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The funding can be “deployed quickly as part of a strategy to help get schools open in the remaining months of this school year,” the Department of Health and Human Services said in a news release.
“In addition to ensuring diagnostic testing of symptomatic and exposed individuals, serial screening testing will help schools identify infected individuals without symptoms who may be contagious so that prompt action can be taken to prevent further transmission,” the agency said.
As testing is new for many schools, the CDC and state and local health departments will provide technical assistance to help schools launch COVID testing programs.
The testing funds are a big boost for educators who want to return to their classrooms safely, New York State United Teachers President Andy Pallotta added.
“Far too few school districts in New York currently have a testing regimen up and running,” Pallotta said. “Today, the Biden administration is sending them a clear signal about what it takes to reopen safely. Districts must get this accomplished.”
The funding for testing comes from the American Rescue Plan’s allocations to the Centers for Disease Control, which has released appropriations for each state.