City Hall: Schools scramble to cover COVID costs after FEMA pulls funding | City Hall

BEWARE THOSE LATE Friday afternoon emails.

Karen DeFrancis, business administrator for the Manchester school district, told school board members last week that she received an email at 4:45 p.m. on Friday, Sept. 11, from the state’s Department of Safety, Homeland Security and Emergency Management notifying school districts they should anticipate getting less money from the federal government than they expected to cover COVID-related expenses this fall.

Paul Feely's City Hall

School districts across the state were planning on reimbursement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency for materials, including PPE, cleaning supplies and acrylic barriers.

That was before FEMA changed course. In a letter to New Hampshire officials, FEMA said schools did not qualify for financial assistance — even during a pandemic — “because the education of children is not an immediate action necessary to protect public health, life, and safety.”

“We were a little surprised by that,” DeFrancis told school board members. “Basically,

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New Hampshire school officials fault FEMA reversal on Covid reimbursement

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Colleen Ortakales in front of her 2nd-grade classroom at Riddle Brook Elementary School in Bedford.

Late last week, New Hampshire school districts learned that federal money they were previously thought they could rely on would no longer be available to cover costs associated with their response to Covid-19.

On Sept. 11, the state was informed by the Federal Emergency Management Agency that they will not be covering reimbursements for face masks and other supplies to be used by teachers, staff and students. Additional supplies not covered include any extra desks or chairs, cleaning supplies and the purchase and installments of physical barriers, such as Plexiglas.

Many school districts in the state had intentions of seeking reimbursement from FEMA for these additional costs, including the Salem School District, which was seeking to have a large amount of money reimbursed.

Salem’s Assistant Superintendent for Business Operations Deborah Payne said that the district

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FEMA COVID-19 funding change hits subway, school cleanings: Schumer

A new FEMA policy change will scrub COVID-19 funds for disinfecting mass transit, schools and other public facilities, New York officials charged on Thursday.

“I have spoken with New York State and New York City and they are telling me that disinfection of the MTA, government buildings, and schools will now no longer be eligible expenses [for federal reimbursement], and that PPE for non-medical workers has been strictly limited,” Senator Minority Leader Chuck Schumer said in a statement.

The FEMA rule change, set for Sept. 15, eliminates federal support for the virus-safe operation of courthouses, public transit, public housing, schools and other public facilities, CNN reported on Wednesday — including funds for cleaning and protective equipment.

“The operation of schools and other public facilities, even with changes necessitated by the COVID-19 environment … are not immediate actions necessary to protect public health and safety,” the emergency management agency wrote in

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