The Biden administration will implement testing programs in schools as part of the president’s plan to get children back in classrooms.
The Department of Human and Health Services (HHS) will be giving away $650 million in grants to schools to help with testing efforts of their students and faculty, the White House said in a press release Thursday.
Schools will be given tests, testing supplies and assistance to help implement the testing initiative.
The administration said this is an initial investment in expanding K-8 school testing and testing in underserved congregate settings through new regional coordinating centers that will identify existing testing capacity, match it up to an area of need and support testing.
President BidenJoe BidenManchin cements key-vote status in 50-50 SenateThe Memo: How the COVID year upended politicsPost-pandemic plans for lawmakers: Chuck E. Cheese, visiting friends, hugging grandkidsMORE also wants to vaccinate all teachers and give schools resources and guidance for safe reopenings.
Last week, the President announced that he is using the Administrations authority to direct states to make Pre-K-12 school staff and child care workers eligible for vaccinations and that the Administration will prioritize educators in the federal pharmacy program, the press release says.
Although the White House wants teachers vaccinated, the administration said it is not a requirement for schools to reopen.
The coronavirus relief package that passed this week also dedicates almost $130 billion to schools so they can afford to keep their staff and hire more as needed, support smaller class sizes and provide additional help to students whove struggled this past year.
Some students have had difficulties adjusting to virtual learning, with Virginias largest school system reporting that the percentage of its students receiving Fs has doubled during the pandemic.
The Department of Education will also be hosting a conference, launching a school reopening program and releasing Volume 2 of a K-12 COVID-19 handbook so schools have the guidance and resources needed to know how to keep everyone safe while getting kids back in the classroom.
Reopening schools safely is critical to getting closer to normal, the press release said.