DPHHS has fulfilled 75 applications for 200+ schools serving nearly 80,000 students
Together with the Montana Department of Public Health and Human Services, Governor Greg Gianforte announced today that the state distributed $2.7 million in federal funding to public and private schools this fall to help them remain open during the ongoing pandemic.
“We prioritized getting this funding out the door as quickly as possible to ensure staff and students were safe at schools this fall,” Gov. Gianforte said. “Since we first began distributing funding for rapid testing in the late summer, DPHHS has distributed $2.7 million to help minimize the spread of COVID in schools.”
The funding is part of a federal school reopening program to provide all the resources necessary to operate a successful screening testing program. The program is designed to test students and staff to identify potential cases of COVID-19, prevent outbreaks, and allow schools to remain open. The program covers expenses related to the prevention and detection of COVID-19 in the school setting, including staffing support.
To date, funding has been awarded to 75 total public and private school districts. This includes a total of 223 schools with an enrollment of more than 78,000 students.
“Testing offers an additional layer of prevention, helping schools to provide in-person learning for their students with confidence,” DPHHS Director Adam Meier said.
The program uses BinaxNOW rapid antigen tests to support screening/testing of staff and potentially select groups of students routinely to detect asymptomatic cases. In some cases, symptomatic testing, for those who come to school feeling well but develop symptoms during the school day, may also be performed. The program covers other allowable expenses such as paying temporary staff, personal protective equipment, hygiene and cleaning supplies, and more.
All Montana K-12 public school districts and private schools are eligible for this funding.
To participate in the COVID-19 Screening Testing Program, public school districts and private schools can complete a brief online application to receive up to $45,000. The average award amount thus far is $36,394 per school. Additional funding is available to schools to support this effort throughout the 2021-2022 school year.
School systems participating in this program are encouraged to design their own unique testing programs that work best for their students and staff on the local level.
Regardless of participation, any K-12 public or private school can obtain COVID-19 BinaxNOW rapid antigen test kits to utilize as part of their school testing and screening programs.
“Test kits can be ordered free of charge directly from DPHHS,” Meier said.
He added the BinaxNOW COVID-19 tests do not require a medical professional to collect or conduct the tests. While a school district or school-based nurse is preferable, any staff member can easily be trained to conduct the tests.
For more information on how to order test kits, please contact Dana Fejes at email@example.com
For detailed information about this funding opportunity and access to the online application, please visit dphhs.mt.gov/schoolhealth/ELCschoolreopening. Questions can also be emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.