‘Makes a lot of sense’: Grants are offering schools funding for COVID-19 testing and tracing

Education

INDIANAPOLIS — The state health department is offering grants for school districts to hire additional personnel to assist with COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.

Federal dollars from two CDC grants, totaling $22.8 million, are now available to help schools in their COVID-19 efforts. 

“I think this funding opportunity could be great, especially for those schools who need additional help or those health departments who need additional help communicating with their schools,” said Stephenie Mellinger, administrator for the Madison County Health Department.

The state health department, which is directing the funding, denied my request for an interview.

A spokesperson did send us an email explaining the federal funding will go towards hiring personnel to assist schools with COVID-19 testing, contact tracing and reporting.

Mellinger says the money will be distributed to local health departments based on population size and need. 

“It is $110,000 per person, per year of funding,” Mellinger said.

In Madison County, that would mean funding for four additional staff.

“I think what would be helpful is if these personnel could go to schools and do on-site testing to help the nurses out,” Mellinger said.

Some parents we spoke to are hoping the grants will create COVID-19 testing sites at schools to ease the burden on school nurses and teachers.

“They’re the ones that are spending tremendous amounts of time with our children,” said Miles Nelson,  a Carmel Clay Schools parent. “Giving them the ability to do these things in schools just makes a lot of sense.”

“I think that will save us a lot from running around, trying to get our kids tested when something occurs,” said Erika Robertson, a Carmel Clay Schools parent.

Local health departments must submit a letter of intent– stating they will or will not participate in the program– by Oct. 22.

More details on when the grants will begin is expected to follow. 

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