Queens lawmakers want state to cover costs of COVID-19 testing in all schools

Pediatrician taking nasal mucus test sample
Photo via Getty Images

Requiring COVID-19 testing in schools is an important element in containing the pandemic and keeping schools open and safe. But unlike their public counterparts, nonpublic schools are being forced to cover the expense of testing without reimbursement from the state.

Two Queens lawmakers contend that this unfunded mandate from the state puts an undue and unjust burden on many schools.

“Testing is a crucial component of keeping our schools open and keeping our students, teachers and faculty safe during the pandemic,” Assemblyman Andrew Hevesi said, “New York state did the right thing by making these tests mandatory. It must do the right thing again by not imposing an unfunded mandate on our religious, private and nonpublic schools.”

Hevesi and state Senator Joseph Addabbo introduced legislation that would provide financial relief, ensure that all schools are treated equally and guarantee that necessary testing guidelines are followed.

“The numbers have shown that schools are actually some of the safest spots during the COVID-19 pandemic, and it is vital for New York state to provide funding for our private, religious and nonpublic schools to continue their testing practices,” said Addabbo, who is also a member of the Senate Education Committee. “I am proud to sponsor this piece of legislation in the Senate to ensure that our nonpublic schools are fairly compensated, just like our public schools, for their efforts in helping to keep the students, teachers and faculty safe during these trying times.”

he Archdiocese of New York sued the city’s Department of Education last month for failing to provide free COVID-19 testing for its students. While the court ruled in the Archdiocese’s favor, the city is appealing the decision.

“I’m grateful to Senator Addabbo and Assembly member Hevesi for putting children first,” Archbishop of New York Cardinal Timothy Dolan said. “New York has a solemn obligation to protect the health and safety of all students and teachers, no matter what the school. Our Catholic schools have been enthusiastic partners with the state since this pandemic began. All we ask is for is fair treatment for our kids, and that’s what this legislation ensures.”

The legislation has the support of Teach NYS which advocates for equitable government funding in nonpublic schools.

“The nonpublic school community is 1,600 schools strong, educating more than 400,000 children in New York state and working diligently to keep our children and teachers safe during this pandemic,” Teach NYS Executive Director Maury Litwack said. “It is critical that the state make the health and safety of all school children a priority, and provide nonpublic schools with the funding necessary to cover the expense of COVID-19 testing. We thank Assemblyman Hevesi and Senator Addabbo for their legislation. NYS continues to make great strides in containing the spread of COVID-19. In doing so, let’s ensure the health and safety of the nonpublic school community is not left behind and guarantee all schools are reimbursed for the cost of COVID-19 testing.”

More from Around New York