Local schools among the recipients of COVID-19 School Testing Program Grant

Published 5:44 pm Tuesday, October 19, 2021

ROSEVILLE – The Minnesota Department of Education (MDE) has received applications for COVID-19 school testing program grant funds from 86% of school districts, charter schools and tribal schools. An additional 168 school districts, charter schools and tribal schools have applied since the deadline to apply for the grant was extended from Oct. 1 to Oct. 15.

“COVID-19 testing remains a critical strategy as we work to keep our students in their classrooms and activities while protecting the health and safety of all students, staff and families,” said Education Commissioner Dr. Heather Mueller. “I am so grateful to our school leaders who have stepped up once again to protect their school communities, especially as our youngest Minnesotans remain ineligible for vaccination.”

School districts, charter schools and tribal schools have requested nearly $50 million for staffing or to purchase any necessary supplies to conduct COVID-19 school testing programs, such as test kits and personal protective equipment. The funds to support schools in creating COVID-19 testing programs for students and staff, were designated by the State of Minnesota from the Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Reopening Schools Grant supported through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.

Local schools have been awarded the following:

• Austin/Albert Lea Special Education – $40,000

• Austin Public Schools District – $273,664.04

• Blooming Prairie Public Schools District – $40,000

• Grand Meadow Public School District – $40,000

• Hayfield Public School District – $40,000

• LeRoy-Ostrander Public Schools – $40,000

• Lyle Public School District – $40,000

• Southland Public School District – $40,000

In addition to the grant funding, through Minnesota’s first-in-the-nation COVID-19 school testing program, all schools have ongoing access to individual PCR tests, pooled PCR tests and rapid tests – both antigen and molecular – at no cost. School districts, charter schools, tribal schools and nonpublic schools have autonomy in developing their testing program and are encouraged to use these options provided at the state or federal level to meet the needs within their school communities.

This school year, COVID-19 health and safety plans were created at the local level by school boards and school leaders. The Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) has issued Best Practice Recommendations to guide schools as they implement layered mitigation strategies such as COVID-19 testing, universal masking requirements, physical distancing, contact tracing and quarantining. These science-based strategies are designed to keep students learning in person and protect the health and safety of students, staff and families. The state is also providing schools with resources and support, including Minnesota’s COVID-19 school testing program and grant funding