Biden sends more COVID tests to schools to keep them open



The Biden administration is ramping up federal support for COVID-19 testing for schools in an effort to keep them running amid an increase in omicrons.

The White House announced Wednesday that the administration is making a dedicated stream of 5 million rapid tests and 5 million lab-based PCR tests available to schools starting this month to reduce supply shortages and promote the safe reopening of schools. This is more than the $10 billion spent on school tests allowed in the COVID-19 relief law and the roughly $130 billion spent on that law to keep children in school.

The new initiative comes as the White House faces growing criticism over long lines and supply shortages for testing. In Chicago, the nation’s third-largest public school system was closed for days following an impasse between teachers and officials over reopening policies. The closures are a black eye for Biden, who has made reopening schools – and keeping them open – a priority.

“We have been very clear, publicly and privately, that we want to see schools open,” White House press secretary Jen Psaki said Monday. She cited the large amount of funding for schools as evidence of the administration making sure “we are prepared and have the resources needed to tackle anything that might happen during the pandemic.”

The new tests are just enough to satisfy a fraction of the more than 50 million students and educators in schools nationwide. The administration hopes the tests will fill serious gaps in schools that are having trouble securing tests through existing federal funding or are facing coronavirus outbreaks. COVID-19 is more contagious.

The White House said states can request the tests immediately and that the tests will be available for use by the end of the month.

The administration is also targeting other federally-backed testing sites to support school testing programs, including the identification of Federal Emergency Management Agency sites in California. schools.

Additionally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention will release new guidance later this week to help schools implement a “test to stay” policy, using rapid testing to stay in touch. with those who tested positive in the classroom.

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