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Schumer Says Without Federal Funding Schools May Not Reopen Safely

Citing COVID-19 costs as too big for New York school districts to carry alone, U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer, D-New York, said without specific federal funds, schools throughout the Western New York region might not be able to reopen safely come fall.

“Everyone wants our schools to reopen, but the federal government must lead the way by funding the safety measures that would open the doors of schools throughout the Western New York region in a way that helps ensure the coronavirus does not needlessly spread or infect teachers, kids or staff,” Schumer said. “Without federal dollars to cover the massive costs of PPE, barriers, cleaning supplies and more, local school budgets across Upstate New York would be crushed, local taxes could rise and some schools might simply stay closed–and we do not want that. That’s why we need to take action in ‘COVID-4’ and commit $175 billion to the goal of safely reopening K-12 schools for all.”

Schumer said costs for personal protective equipment, physical barriers and other supplies at schools, like those used for cleaning, could badly drain local resources, making it much harder for New York districts to open safely and ensure the collective protection of kids, teachers and staff. Additionally, as school districts across WNY consider a combination of in-person and online classes, Schumer said the stark digital access divide exacerbated by COVID-19 shutdowns threaten to increase inequality in schools and leave students behind.

Therefore, he announced a new legislative push to include much-needed assistance in a “Corona-4” legislative package. His plan would work to substantially cover the aforementioned costs with federal dollars, allowing schools to safely reopen. Schumer is pushing for $175 billion dollars for kindergarten through 12th grade schools across the country and an additional $4 billion to help purchase computers, tablets, hotspots, and broadband for students and educators, and says New York would see a massive chunk of that allotment.

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