Public and tribal schools in Minnesota will have until Oct. 15 to apply for grants that will help fund COVID-19 testing programs for students and staff. The initial deadline for the program was Oct. 1.

The program, which is aimed at maximizing in-person learning, helps schools provide resources to slow the spread of COVID-19.

"Our school buildings are the very best place for our students to receive an education and to develop the important social-emotional skills that will serve them throughout their lives," Education Commissioner Heather Mueller said in a news release. "Regular COVID-19 testing can help identify new cases early, slowing the spread of the virus, which is critical as many of our youngest Minnesotans are still ineligible for vaccines."

The funds are part of a $55 million Epidemiology Laboratory Capacity Reopening Schools grant that was funded by the American Rescue Plan Act. Every school district, charter school and tribal school in the state is eligible for the funding for the 2021-22 school year.

The state said that as of Sept. 28, 44% of all public and tribal schools had requested grants, which can be used for staffing or to purchase testing supplies and personal protective equipment. Information about how to apply is on the Minnesota Department of Education's website.