ROSEVILLE – To help schools create COVID-19 testing programs for students and staff, the state of Minnesota extended the deadline for public and tribal schools to apply for a grant to October 15. The original deadline was October 1.
In-person learning is critical to a child’s well-being and academic success, and testing in K-12 schools is always part of a larger mitigation strategy to slow the spread. of COVID-19.
“Our school buildings are the best place for our students to receive an education and develop important socio-emotional skills that will serve them throughout their lifetimes,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “Regular COVID-19 testing can help identify new cases early, slowing the spread of the virus, which is critical as many of our younger Minnesotans are still not eligible for vaccines. MDE and MDH stand ready to support schools in their efforts to create testing programs that protect the health and safety of our school communities.
Minnesota previously designated $ 55 million from its Reopening Schools of Epidemiology (ELC) grant backed by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to provide COVID-19 testing support for schools to detect and prevent transmission of the virus in schools.
Each school district, charter school and tribal school is eligible to apply for funding to support the implementation of COVID-19 testing programs for the 2021-22 school year. As of September 28, 44% of public and tribal schools in Minnesota have applied for grants.
Grant funds can be used for staffing or to purchase supplies needed to conduct school COVID-19 testing programs, such as test kits and personal protective equipment. Information on how to apply for a grant is available on the Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) website. Schools must complete their application and accept their prize by October 15th.
In addition to grant funding, under Minnesota’s first COVID-19 school testing program, schools have free access to individual PCR tests, pooled PCR tests, and rapid tests – both antigenic and molecular. School districts, charter schools, tribal schools and non-public schools have autonomy to develop their testing program and are encouraged to use these options provided at the state or federal level to meet needs. of their school communities.
This school year, COVID-19 health and safety plans are being created at the local level by school boards and principals. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has released best practice recommendations to guide schools in implementing layered mitigation strategies such as COVID-19 testing, universal masking requirements, physical removal, contact tracing and quarantine. These science-based strategies are designed for students to learn in person and to protect the health and safety of students, staff and families.
The state also provides schools with resources and support, including Minnesota’s COVID-19 school testing program and grants.