Minnesota officials are seeking more than $250 million in federal funding to help reopen schools in the fall.
Minnesota Management and Budget penned a letter to state lawmakers Tuesday asking for $256 million in CARES Act funding to address costs associated with the technology changes, personal protective equipment and testing needed to safely open both public and private schools in the fall.
It's believed to be part of a wider $430 million federal funding package to help schools prepare for the fall semester, which was proposed by Gov. Tim Walz during his school announcement last Thursday.
Walz announced a plan that will give school districts authority to reopen schools for either in-person tuition, distance learning, or a mixture of both depending on the COVID-19 levels in the surroundin g areas.
The request includes:
$244.8 million to support transition back to school
to address the operating costs associated with bringing children back to school and supporting children and families when alternative learning models – such as distance learning – have to be used. This includes new tech devices, digital training, cleaning supplies, and tutors meant to ease the transition.
It would cover school aged childcare costs for emergency workers, and increased costs for "transporting students at a smaller capacity."
“Technology, learning loss, mental health, social-emotional learning, and staff professional development were the areas of most concern,” the request reads.
$5.2 million for PPE
would provide the initial supplies needed so bring children into classrooms. These supplies include both cloth and disposable masks and face shields.
“Reopening schools is critical during the COVID19 pandemic, when many children and families are experiencing additional economic hardships, social isolation, and stresses. Schools are a critical component of communities and have a tremendous positive impact on the health, wellbeing, growth, and development of students and families,” the request reads.
Students, faculty and staff will all be required to wear face coverings in school buildings and on school transportation.
$6 million for testing
This funding would provide testing for adult faculty and staff of public and private schools. The request notes that research indicates adults are more likely to contract and spread COVID-19 than children. These saliva tests would be shipped overnight to the employee's home upon request via new website that will be launched for school staff, and returned via a prepaid overnight envelope. The results are expected to be available in 24-48 hours.
The funding would also help facilitate testing events in schools and communities through the state’s partnership between the University of Minnesota and Mayo Clinic. But because testing events often take place after a known exposure, the funding would also provide more on-demand testing for adults who are in situations that put them at higher risk of infection.
Members of the Legislative Advisory Commission must provide a recommendation on the funding request by Aug. 14.