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Biden administration to allocate billions toward COVID-19 testing for schools

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(WASHINGTON) — The Biden administration on Wednesday announced a plan to allocate $10 billion toward implementing COVID-19 screening tests for teachers, staff and students to help districts reopen safely, according to a news release from the agency.

The Department of Health and Human Services said in its announcement that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as state and local health departments, will help schools set up these programs, and that the final allocations will be made to health departments in early April.

“COVID-19 testing is critical to saving lives and restoring economic activity,” said HHS Acting Secretary Norris Cochran, according to the release. “As part of the Biden Administration’s National Strategy, HHS will continue to expand our capacity to get testing to the individuals and the places that need it most, so we can prevent transmission of the virus and defeat the pandemic.”

The administration also announced plans for a “summit” on reopening schools that will take place March 24, featuring first lady Jill Biden and Rochelle Walensky, director of the CDC.

As part of the Biden administration’s push to get students back into the classroom, the Education Department also announced states, Puerto Rico and the District of Columbia will receive a combined $122 billion from the American Rescue Plan that Biden signed last week.

The funds will start becoming available to state education agencies this month, the Education Department said, and can be used for things like investing in PPE, better ventilation and hiring additional staff.

“This pandemic has taken an extraordinary toll on students, parents, educators, and schools, and we know that our schools, students, and communities need help now to reopen safely and quickly, and to stay open,” Secretary of Education Miguel Cardona said in a statement.

“These funds from the American Rescue Plan and the extraordinary steps the Department is taking to get these resources to States quickly will allow schools to invest in mitigation strategies to get students back in the classroom and stay there, and address the many impacts this pandemic has had on students – especially those disproportionately impacted by the pandemic.”

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