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Treasury: Arizona risks relief funds over anti-mandate rules

WASHINGTON – The Biden administration threatens to recover COVID-19 relief funds sent to Arizona over state provisions it says discourage families and school districts from following federal guidelines recommending the cover face in schools.

At issue, two public programs intended to help schools and students, but which divert funding from jurisdictions with requirements for masks. Arizona’s Education Plus-Up grant program provides $ 163 million in funding to schools, but districts that require face coverings are not eligible. And its COVID-19 educational recovery benefit program provides up to $ 7,000 for parents if their child’s school requires face coverings.

In a Friday letter, the Treasury Department warned the state has 60 days to remove anti-masking provisions before the federal government recovers the relief money, and it threatened to suspend the next tranche as well. help.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that the mask be worn universally in schools to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

“By discouraging families and school districts from following these guidelines, the conditions referenced above undermine efforts to stop the spread of COVID-19,” the Treasury Department wrote. “Accordingly, these school programs as currently structured are ineligible uses of (Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds).”

Arizona has already received about half of the $ 4.2 billion allocated to the state under the 2021 coronavirus relief bill.

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