Gov. Chris Sununu is calling on federal health officials to extend a program that provides “crucial” funding to states for COVID-19 screening and surveillance in schools.
In a letter to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Rochelle Walensky, Sununu urges the agency to extend the timeline for the Epidemiology and Laboratory Capacity Reopening Schools program to July 2023 “in order to keep New Hampshire schools open and safe.” The program is set to expire in July.
“New Hampshire schools are already looking ahead to the next calendar year and preparing for future variants that could arise,” he wrote. “We should not leave teachers and educators in the lurch by removing the option to receive critical funding that will help support their efforts.”
New Hampshire has received more than $3.1 million from the federal testing program in 2021, according to the CDC, which distributed more than $247 million to states last year.
Overall, the state has received more than $189 million in direct pandemic-related federal funding in the past two years, according to the federal agency.
Sununu said the money has been “invaluable” to reducing the state’s COVID-19 response and keeping students in the classroom during much of the pandemic. He said “allowing funding to lapse could hinder progress in New Hampshire and schools nationwide.” He said the program works because it is “flexible and scalable” from the CDC’s guidance.
“States, school districts, and individual schools implement testing protocols that meet specific needs of their community – and then they can scale these programs up or down based on testing data about transmissibility in a given school or community,” Sununu wrote.
Sununu credits the program and other federal funding with helping to reopen schools last April, when many states were still allowing public school students to learn remotely.
He said extending the timeline of the ELC program would allow New Hampshire and other states to better plan for the back-to-school season this fall.
“This is a far better option than allowing funding for these crucial programs to lapse, and then trying to restart testing programs for the need to do so inevitably arises again,” Sununu wrote.
This article was originally posted on New Hampshire governor seeks federal extension of COVID-19 school monitoring