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DeWine seeks $300 million for education

Funds to be used to protect returning students from virus

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine and other state officials plan to ask the State Controlling Board on Monday to allocate $300 million in coronavirus relief funds to help colleges, universities and K-12 schools as they plan to reopen for the 2020-21 year.

During Thursday’s press conference, DeWine said the state will be releasing guidance for how Ohio’s 167 universities and colleges should operate when students and staff return to their campuses next month.

“The colleges and universities really drive our economy…. It is important that as students, faculty and staff prepare to return this year that they be prepared for the startup. Testing will be an integral part of reopening as will isolating those who show symptoms. Policies and procedures will need to be in place.” DeWine said.

Guidance also was provided last week for public and private K-12 schools as they also prepare to reopen, some as early as mid-August.

DeWine said the Ohio Department of Higher Education worked with colleges, universities, the Ohio Department of Health and health experts across the state to produce minimum operating standards that should occur on all campuses and best practices to enhance those standards.

“By implementing these minimum

requirements and implementing best practices, our higher education communities can continue to educate students and prevent the spread of COVID-19.” he said.

DeWine said testing will be an integral part of keeping campuses safe with each Ohio campus identifying how it can best implement COVID-19 testing within the institution. He also said each campus also must have a plan in place on how it’s going to isolate students, staff, and faculty who are showing coronavirus symptoms.

DeWine said it’s recommended that each campus set aside a university housing space or secure a local living space so it can be used to rapidly relocate infected people who live in residence halls, sorority or fraternity houses and other institution affiliated housing.

To help cover the costs to ensure safety for those on campuses or in school, DeWine said he has spoken with Householder, Senate President Larry Obhof, Democratic Sen. Kenny Yuko and Democratic Sen. Emilia Sykes.

“We’re requesting that the controlling board approve our initial request on Monday to allocate $200 million for higher education and $100 million for K through 12 from the coronavirus relief fund to help meet these increasing costs,” DeWine said.

“This funding comes from federal CARES Act dollars to help schools meet their unique individual needs. We intend for this funding to be very flexible to prevent the spread of COVID-19,” DeWine said.

He said funds can be used for costs for COVID-19 testing, nurses to help with assessments, distance learning operations and purchase of personal protective equipment.

“We want to ensure the safety of our students by prevening the spread of COVID-19. If you educate students in Ohio we will provide additional support and funding,” he said.

Also, DeWine said he will be awarding $15 million to Coalition for Homelesseness and Housing in Ohio for addressing homelessness and housing because the homeless are often more at risk of contracting COVID-19 at shelters.

The grant funding is in addition to a $1 million grant that DeWine awarded the coalition in April that helped to keep hundreds of Ohioans safely housed during the pandemic.

“COVID is still with us. It is important to help people to stay housed,” he said.

Also at the press conference, DeWine announced a member of his staff has tested positive for COVID-19 and had been working from home since the beginning of the pandemic and is recovering.

“This virus is very much with us,” he said.

bcoupland@tribtoday.com

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