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FEMA Plans To Halt Funding for Cloth Face Coverings for Schools

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Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) plans to halt federal funding to provide cloth face masks for schools across the country.

In audio recordings obtained by NPR, FEMA representatives and state officials signaled that they were aware the decision would likely face criticism due to the coronavirus pandemic.

According to FEMA official Keith Turi, the expenditure is not eligible to be considered a “direct emergency protective measure.”

“Supporting schools and other functions — courthouses and other related functions — are not a direct emergency protective measures and therefore they’re not eligible for [federal funding],” Turi said during a call on Tuesday, according to the publication.

He added, “There are costs that being incurred and required based on COVID, but they are all not necessarily emergency protective measures, and they’re not necessarily all FEMA-eligible.”

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The policy change of not providing the reimbursements to the states for the face mask costs goes into effect on September 15.

FEMA’s latest decision comes as school districts and universities across the country attempt to reopen for the fall semester. Many school districts that opted for in-person have already made headlines for having to quickly opt for temporary or in-definite shutdowns of in-person learning due to coronavirus-related complications.

Thousands of students and teachers have either tested positive for COVID-19 or been placed under quarantine due to coronavirus exposure. This also has pushed many to remote learning.

Despite the challenges, President Donald Trump and the U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos have continued to push for schools to reopen.

The president also previously threatened to withhold federal funding for schools that opted for virtual learning in lieu of in-person classes.

As of Wednesday morning, the United States has reported more than 6.2 million coronavirus cases as the country’s death toll is over 189,000 due to the virus.

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