WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senators Bill Cassidy, M.D. (R-LA) and Debbie Stabenow (D-MI) introduced a bipartisan bill Thursday to help schools and colleges cover the costs of protecting students and educators from COVID-19. The Reopen Schools Safely Act will establish a major federal grant program at the U.S. Department of Education to help school districts and colleges reopen this fall.
A conservative analysis by the School Superintendents Association found that an average school district needs up to $1.8 million to reopen safely.
“Children are paying the highest price of the lockdown relative to their risk of complications. They are missing critical learning and development time. Children must safely return to school this fall to prevent further disruption to their educations,” said Dr. Cassidy.
“As we look to the Fall, every parent, teacher and administrator I know is anguishing over how we safely return our children to school. The reality is, we can’t fully reopen our economy and parents can’t return to work, if our schools can’t safely open. And because of the incredible strain from the COVID crisis, states need federal help. This legislation has brought Republicans and Democrats together to put the safety of our children first and to make sure our schools and colleges have the resources they need to meet this unprecedented challenge,” said Stabenow.
With the funds from the Reopen Schools Safely Act, school districts and colleges will have flexibility to use these funds for any expense needed to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19. These expenses include personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, temperature-screening equipment, certified COVID-19 tests, and more.
Governors, who will apply for the funding, will have the flexibility to determine the distribution of funds to local school districts, colleges and universities based on the needs of their state. School districts and colleges will have the flexibility to use these federal funds for any expense needed to meet Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, state, and local guidelines for mitigating the spread of COVID-19.