WASHINGTON (AP) — The Biden Administration Threatens to Refund COVID-19 Relief Funds Sent to Arizona Due to State Regulations It Says Do Not Encourage Families and School Districts to Follow Federal Guidelines Recommending Wearing Face Masks school.
These are two government programs that are designed to help schools and students, but send funding from jurisdictions with mask-wearing requirements. Arizona’s Education Plus-Up Grant Program provides schools with $163 million in funding, but counties that require facial coverage are not eligible. And its COVID-19 Recovery Educational Benefit Program provides up to $7,000 for parents if face coverage is required at their child’s school.
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In Friday’s letter, the Treasury Department warned the state has 60 days to lift anti-disguise provisions before the federal government proceeds to return aid money and threatened to withhold the next aid tranche as well.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends the universal wearing of masks in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
“By discouraging families and school districts from following this guidance, the conditions mentioned above undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the Treasury Department wrote. “Accordingly, these school programs, as currently structured, are unacceptable for use by the (Coronavirus State and Local Budget Recovery Fund).”
Arizona has already received about half of the $4.2 billion awarded to the state under the 2021 coronavirus relief bill.