With most Iowa students returning to school next week, U.S. Rep. Cindy Axne, R-Iowa, in a letter on Wednesday urged Gov. Kim Reynolds to deploy all available resources to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the classroom, including the federal funds designated for that purpose which the State of Iowa rejected earlier this year.
In April, the Iowa Department of Public Health (IDPH) declined to utilize over $95 million in funding from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity (ELC) Reopening Schools program.
These funds – which can be used to test for COVID-19 in schools, upgrade air filtration systems in schools, promote vaccinations, and more – were provided by the American Rescue Plan, the federal COVID-19 relief bill, supported by Axne, was signed into law in March.
“I strongly urge the State of Iowa to reconsider its position to decline ELC Reopening Schools funding” she wrote. “As we enter a new school year and new chapter of the pandemic, it is imperative that we all come together – federal, state, and local partners alike – to ensure Iowa schools have the tools necessary to provide in-person instruction in a healthy, safe space. ELC Reopening Schools funds are one key tool at our disposal to keep our children safe.”
In her letter, Axne highlights the growing risk that COVID-19 and the delta variant she says pose to children, noting that the number of positive tests per week among U.S. children has more than doubled over last month.
“I am deeply concerned that the return to school will only lead to more COVID-19 cases, including cases requiring hospitalization, unless schools have the resources to develop and implement mitigation strategies that fit their needs,” she added. “Additional resources, such as those from the CDC, would allow schools to do more testing, identify who may have COVID-19, and better protect kids, teachers, and parents from COVID-19.”
The full text of Axne’s letter can be found below:2021-08-18 Axne Letter to Reynolds on ELC Reopening Schools