Funds approved for Idaho COVID testing, supplies to open schools safely

Posted at 10:46 AM, Jul 24, 2020
and last updated 2020-07-24 16:30:02-04

BOISE, Idaho — Governor Brad Little's Coronavirus Financial Advisory Committee approved an extra $40 million to increase and improve COVID-19 testing in Idaho. The committee also approved an additional $10 million to equip schools with supplies needed to open safely.

"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. It’s imperative that students return to their classrooms and interact directly with their teachers and classmates,” Governor Little said.

$21 million of the funds will go to test school staff, who are identified as a priority group by the Testing Task Force. $10 million will cover masks, gloves, hand sanitizer and plexiglass for Idaho schools when they reopen. $13 million will improve testing in long-term care facilities. $3 million will go to increasing testing lab turnaround time and capacity, as well as lab upgrades. The final $3 million will increase access to testing in rural areas by leveraging Idaho pharmacists and pharmacies in testing efforts.

Idaho has already directed $43.1 million in federal relief funds to support public schools, according to a release from the Governor's office. Now, more resources have been directed to K-12 public education, including $33.8 million to support blended learning, $3.2 million for the Idaho Digital Learning Academy, $4 million to cover personal protective equipment in schools and costs associated with moving to online learning, $1 million for remote student mental health support, and $6 million for additional K-12 support such as K-3 reading remediation and remote STEM education opportunities.

A total of 122.2 million has been committed to K-12 public education for the school year between direct federal support for schools and Governor Little's actions through the CARES Act.