July 17 (UPI) — Presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden on Friday called for Congress to pass an additional $34 billion in funding to help schools reopen amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The request for funding is part of a five-part plan he laid out to help students eventually return to classrooms. He warned that schools in areas where there are COVID-19 spikes shouldn’t reopen too soon.
Biden’s plan comes as the Trump administration pushes for campuses to fully reopen in the weeks ahead amid a recent surge in COVID-19 cases in many parts of the country.
“If we do this wrong, we will put lives at risk and set our economy and our country back,” the former vice president said in his statement.
He encouraged the Senate to approve the $3 trillion HEROES Act, which the House passed in May. It gives $58 billion to local school districts.
Biden also called on Congress to pass an additional emergency package to give funds to schools to adapt their campuses to safely bring students back. He said school officials estimate the country’s public education and childcare system needs another $30 billion for personal protective equipment, sanitation, health services, and improved ventilation systems, classrooms, class sizes and transportation. He said another $4 billion is needed for upgraded technology and broadband Internet.
Biden outlined a five-point plan for opening schools, which includes:
1 — Getting the virus under control through expanded contract tracing, testing and use of PPE.
2 — A set of national safety guidelines to help with local decision-making.
3 — The additional $34 billion in funds.
4 — Ensuring high-quality learning during the pandemic, whether through remote, in-person or hybrid learning.
5 — Closing the educational gap in communities with low-income and/or students of color.