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NAU to receive $66 million in American Rescue Act funding

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In-person Instruction at NAU

A student walks down an empty path in front of the Cline Library during an early March afternoon on the campus of Northern Arizona University.

New funding from the American Rescue Plan is making its way to Arizona’s universities and colleges, including Northern Arizona University.

More than $471 million is heading to universities across the state, according to an announcement from Rep. Tom O’Halleran.

Normalcy - a concept that once seemed far fetched - appears closer than ever. Crowds are back at restaurants. People are going out mask-less and travel is opening back up in some parts of the world. But there's still work to do...as health experts try to figure out how to get shots in arms of people who are resistant to vaccination."We are absolutely heading in the right direction, we just can't take our foot off the accelerator," U.S. Surgeon General Dr. Vivek Murthy said.Average daily COVID-19 cases are under 30,000 - the lowest in nearly a year. And with that, more states are fully reopening, lifting all pandemic restrictions. Texas Gov. Greg Abbott says his state is 100 % open. California is planning for a full reopening on June 15. D.C. lifted most capacity limits, and Rhode Island dropped most of its remaining COVID restrictions on Friday. New Jersey is planning to lift the state's indoor mask mandate in public places for vaccinated people before the Memorial Day weekend. It was one of only two states, along with Hawaii, that hadn't set a date for lifting the mandate.  --"We are winning the war on the pandemic and we need you to help us finish the job." More than 280 million vaccine doses have been distributed in the U.S. and more than 127 million people - 38.5 percent of the population - is fully vaccinated. But the average daily pace of vaccinations is slowing... fast. It's down nearly 50% since last month's peak."It's going to be important that we have that widespread, that widespread uptake of the vaccine, then we can return to more and more of what we like to do," said New Jersey public health physician Dr. Chris T. Pernell.On the bright side, more and more young people are getting shots. Those 12 to 15 years old are accounting for 25% of new vaccinations in the past week."This is their shot to being teenagers," said Dr. Jay Varkey, an associate professor of medicine at Emery University. By rolling up their sleeves, they actually help protect their parents, their teachers, their classmates and their communities."

The funding is meant to help institutions cope with the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and navigate future challenges, according to a statement from O’Halleran’s office.

At least half of the funding each institution receives will be distributed in the form of emergency cash assistance grants to students who are facing hunger, homelessness and other hardship.

“The success of our local and state educational institutions is critical to the success of Arizona’s population, economy, and future leaders,” O’Halleran said in a statement.

Of the $471 million, $ 66,183,680 is heading to NAU.

NAU President Rita Cheng called the money “critical support [for] students and university operations.”

“Health and safety have been of foremost importance, and we are pleased to utilize these funds to support those efforts as well as technology and infrastructure investments critical to offering our students many options for continuing their educational pursuits,” Cheng said in a statement.

Meanwhile, the University of Arizona is receiving $83,541,350 while Arizona State University will be getting $191,373,341.

Students in need of support should contact their institutions for information about how they can apply for an emergency grant.

Adrian Skabelund can be reached by phone at (928) 556-2261, by email at askabelund@azdailysun.com or on Twitter at @AdrianSkabelund. 

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