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If Arizona does not make changes to those programs within 60 days, the Treasury Department could start recouping the funds that are being spent in violation of eligible uses, according to a letter sent to Gov. Doug Ducey’s office.
The conditions imposed on these grants “undermine efforts to stop the spread of Covid-19 and discourage compliance with evidence-based solutions for stopping the spread of Covid-19,” the Treasury Department letter said.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention continues to recommend indoor masking in K-12 schools for students, teachers and staff, regardless of vaccination status.
A spokesman for the governor’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The federal money in dispute was authorized by the $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan, which President Joe Biden signed into law in March. The relief package created a $350 billion Coronavirus State and Local Fiscal Recovery Funds program that sent state, local and tribal governments a pot of money to support their responses to the pandemic.
The money can be used for a wide range of expenses, including providing a boost in pay to essential workers, helping small businesses recover from the pandemic and replacing lost public sector revenue.
The American Rescue Plan also sent $128 billion directly to school districts. Much of that money is still available and schools have more than three years to spend it. Staffing, summer learning and after-school programs, HVAC systems, mental health programs and technology to aid remote learning are some of the top priorities, according to a review of state spending plans by FutureED, a nonpartisan think tank at Georgetown University.
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