Cassidy proposes bipartisan Reopen Schools Safely Act

U.S. Sen. Bill Cassidy (R-LA) on June 25 introduced bipartisan legislation that would provide America’s schools and colleges with federal funds to help them safely reopen this fall amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Children are paying the highest price of the lockdown relative to their risk of complications,” Sen. Cassidy said. “They are missing critical learning and development time. Children must safely return to school this fall to prevent further disruption to their educations.”

Sen. Cassidy is the lead original cosponsor of the Reopen Schools Safely Act, S. 4081, with bill sponsor U.S. Sen. Debbie Stabenow (D-MI), which would provide a grant program for elementary schools, secondary schools and institutions of higher education to help offset costs associated with complying with guidelines, recommendations and other public health communications issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention or a state, Indian tribe, tribal organization, or locality related to mitigating the hazards presented by COVID-19, according to the congressional record bill summary.

“As we look to the fall, every parent, teacher, and administrator I know is anguishing over how we safely return our children to school,” said Sen. Stabenow. “The reality is, we can’t fully reopen our economy and parents can’t return to work if our schools can’t safely open. And because of the incredible strain from the COVID crisis, states need federal help.”

Under S. 4081, school districts and colleges would have flexibility to use the federal funds for any expense needed to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, including personal protective equipment, sanitation supplies, temperature screening equipment, and certified COVID-19 tests, among others, according to a bill summary provided by Sen. Cassidy’s office.

Governors would apply for the funding and would have the flexibility to determine the distribution of funds to local school districts, colleges, and universities based on the needs of their state, according to the summary.