Biden HHS To Invest $10 Billion In COVID-19 Testing For Schools To Reopen

(Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images)

Dylan Housman Deputy News Editor
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President Joe Biden’s Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) will invest $10 billion from the American Rescue Plan Act to expand COVID-19 testing in schools.

The department will also offer new guidance on screening of asymptomatic individuals in educational and workplace settings, according to a press release. The $10 billion will be sent from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to states with the goal of supporting more testing for teachers, students, and staff.

The administration aims to help more schools open by the end of the current school year, HHS said in the release Wednesday. Upon entering office, Biden said his goal was to open a majority of schools within his first 100 days as president, but that goal has since been walked back by the administration.

White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in February that the aim was to have “most” schools reopened at least one day per week, although Biden later called that a “mistake in the communication.” (RELATED: Jen Psaki Responds To Suggestion That Prioritizing Teacher Vaccinations Is ‘Anti-Equity Since Most Teachers Are White’)

At the time of the mix-up, thousands of schools across America were already reopened for in-person instruction for more than one day per week. HHS said Wednesday the final allocation of funds will be delivered in early April to state health departments.

The Biden administration has faced criticism from some for being too deferential to teachers’ unions when determining guidelines for school reopening. A number of teachers’ unions across the country have been resistant to a return to in-person schooling. Psaki said in February that the White House did not consider full vaccination of teachers to be a requirement for schools to reopen.

Polling data has indicated that a majority of Americans are more concerned about kids falling behind academically due to school closings than the risk of catching COVID-19 in schools.