BOISE, Idaho — The state's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee has approved an additional $40 million to increase COVID-19 testing and another $10 million for supplies to help Idaho schools reopen safely next month, Gov. Brad Little announced Friday.
"Our number one focus is to get our kids back in school safely for in-person instruction, and the additional funds approved today help get us there. Before coronavirus, too many Idaho students faced a significant achievement gap and ongoing risks to their mental and social wellbeing," Little said in a press release. "It's imperative that students return to their classrooms and interact directly with their teachers and classmates."
Little announced Thursday that Idaho will remain in Stage 4 for at least another two more weeks after failing to hit the benchmarks needed to safely move forward. Coronavirus cases are continuing to surge in the Gem State, with hundreds of new cases confirmed daily.
Little said at his Thursday press conference that he still believes schools reopening for in-person learning should be the "default" this fall.
His office provided the following breakdown of how the $50 million will be used:
- $21 million to test school staff, who are identified as a priority group by the Testing Task Force
- $10 million to cover additional masks, gloves, sanitizer, and plexiglass for Idaho schools as they reopen
- $13 million to improve testing in long-term care facilities
- $3 million to increase testing lab turnaround time and capacity as well as lab upgrades
- $3 million to increase access to testing in rural Idaho by leveraging Idaho pharmacists and pharmacies in testing efforts
Between the state funds and federal CARES Act money already earmarked for K-12 public education amid the pandemic, a total of $122.2 million has been committed Idaho schools for the upcoming school year.
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