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Rep. Miller Meeks: Billions in unused federal COVID-19 relief funds should be used to put security in schools

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WASHINGTON, D.C.- On Monday, May 30th, Rep. Mariannetter Miller-Meeks (R-IA), appeared on Fox News Channel’s “Fox & Friends First,” stating that schools across the United States should be able to use the billions in unused COVID-19 funds to pay for security.

According to reports, during this appearance she argued that schools should be allowed to use the COVID relief money that Congress already allocated to schools, but that has not yet been spent by the schools for security risk assessments and security measures. She stated:

“There is action that can be done. So, I think using the COVID monies that were appropriated last year, we can use that money, allow schools to use it for a security risk assessment, to have doors that only have a one-way entrance, all other doors are locked.”

She added:

“So, you can exit if there’s an emergency, but you can only enter a school through one way. So, helping to prepare schools in order to really focus on the safety and security of their students in addition to their education.”

She finished by saying:

“So, I think I’ve heard Rep. Tony Gonzales (R-TX) mention this, and this is his district where Uvalde is located. Those are concrete actions that we can take right now and already have funds that are appropriated for that.”

According to a report from Fox6, in the wake of the Uvalde massacre, schools in the state of Wisconsin are also looking to federal funds, including COVID-19 monies, to help add more security.

The amount of federal relief money flooding Wisconsin school is roughly $2.4 billion, with nearly $2 billion of it left to be claimed. School districts reportedly have until 2024 to spend the rest of the money.

The U.S. Department of Education has stated that federal COVID-19 relief money can be used to prevent and respond to crime as well as promote public safety. Dan Rossmiller with the Wisconsin Association of School Boards, said in a statement:

“We are hearing quite a bit of concern about the effect of the pandemic on student mental health and that is an area, I think, of some urgency to address. These incidents don’t happen in a vacuum and if we can find resources and personnel to address student mental health issues, I think hopefully we can avert some potential situations.”

Funds can also be used on mental health help, including hiring more counselors and social workers. Rossmiller said:

“I think money is available. I think probably the biggest obstacle is we have a shortage of youth mental health personnel.”

Reportedly, after the 2018 Parkland school shooting in Florida, the state of Wisconsin passed a bill to pump $100 million into school security. Most of that money went to building security like secure doors, surveillance cameras, buzzer systems for the main entrances, and bulletproof film for front door windows.

The bill also set up the Wisconsin Department of Justice’s Office of School Safety (OSS), which has trained 11,000 school staff and police on judge threats as well as adolescent mental health.

The law requires schools to have a safety plan and consult with police on an annual basis. Waukesha Police Chief Daniel Thompson said in a statement:

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