Senator Cynthia Lummis (R–WY) described a private conversation about the issue between her and Lander before the hearing. “It isn’t clear to me what your motives were,” Lummis said, “but it is clear that you wanted to make sure your lab got the patents and the credit for the CRISPR technology, and in the process, you may have marginalized the contributions of two other scientists whose work was essential.” (Broad scientists have been involved in a fierce patent battle with Doudna and others over CRISPR patents.) Lummis hadn’t framed her comments as a question, however, and had already relinquished the floor when Lander asked for time to respond. “This is a very important issue,” he told the committee before proceeding with a lengthy defense of his behavior. “My goal was to show all their contributions,” Lander said about the 12 scientists he discussed in his essay. “But sneak a peek at this site in writing them up, I understated the importance of those key advances [by Doudna and Charpentier]. It wasn’t my intention. But when I make a mistake, I own it and try to do better. I have enormous respect for what they have done.” Lummis seemed satisfied by his answer, thanking him for his “candor” and calling it “very helpful.” The committee’s top Republican, Roger Wicker (MS), focused his attention on the last of Duckworth’s concerns, namely, Lander’s ties to Epstein, a convicted sex offender and science philanthropist whom Lander had met twice in 2012 as director of the Broad Institute. (Epstein died by suicide shortly after his 2019 arrest.) Specifically, Wicker said the committee had asked for 10 years’ worth of records on the institute’s donors and was still waiting for some of the material. “We believe we sent you 8 years, which was what was available,” Lander said. “But I can ask if they can go back 2 more years.” “We asked for 10 [years] for a reason,” Wicker pointed out, apparently alluding to the fact that those records might not have reflected any outcomes of those meetings. Wicker then asked Lander to describe his second of two meetings with Epstein. Unlike in his response to Lummis, however, Lander offered no apologies for his behavior. “Jeffrey Epstein was an abhorrent individual,” Lander said. “We never requested funds, we never received funds from him or his foundation.” Lander said his interactions with Epstein consisted of “two brief events” in the spring of 2012. “I did not know about his sordid history before that point,” Lander told Wicker. “As soon as I learned about it, I had nothing more to do with him.” Lander’s toast of Watson, made at a celebration of Watson’s 90th birthday, did not come up during the hearing. Lander apologized for making the toast shortly after the event. Despite their concerns about Lander’s personal history, the senators devoted most of their time to quizzing him on broader issues facing the country’s research enterprise.https://www.sciencemag.org/news/2021/04/biden-s-nominee-science-chief-issues-apology-defends-character-confirmation-hearing
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The funding can be used to implement the CDC's recommended prevention and mitigation strategies for K-12 schools, meet student and educators' social, emotional, and mental health needs, invest in strategies to address lost instructional time, and boldly address inequities exacerbated by the pandemic. Released two volumes of the COVID-19 Handbook. In February, the Department released Volume 1 of the COVID-19 handbook, which focused on strategies to implement CDC's recommended prevention strategies to safely reopen schools for in-person learning. Volume 2 of the Handbook, released in April, focused on strategies to address students' social, emotional, mental health, and academic needs and advance equity in reopening efforts. These handbooks were created through thoughtful engagement with stakeholders, advocates, and leaders from across the country who are doing the work in opening or supporting the safe reopening of schools. Released a State Plan application for states to access the additional $41 billion in relief funds, to be released this summer, and available to support the 2021-22 school year and beyond. States and districts must engage stakeholders and school communities in developing plans to use ARP ESSER funds to reopen schools, maintain safe and continuous in-person school operation, and address the needs and experiences of students, educators, and families. Prioritized K-12 educator, staff and child care vaccinations. At the beginning of March, President Biden issued a directive to prioritize K-12 educators, school staff, and childcare workers for vaccination, and set a goal of getting all of these essential workers at least one shot in the month of March. By the end of March, over 80 percent of educators and staff had received at least one dose. Awarded $10 billion in ARP funding to support COVID-19 testing in K-12 schools. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention awarded $10 billion to states and jurisdictions to support COVID-19 screening testing for teachers, staff, and students in K-12 schools. By ramping up testing for educators and school staff, the Administration is helping more schools to be able to safely and quickly reopen and more students. Conducted a multi-state school reopening tour to aid in school reopening efforts. Over the past month, Secretary Cardona has traveled across six states to visit K-12 schools to support and highlight their efforts to bring students back for in-person learning. During the tour, Secretary Cardona saw and shared best practices, helped districts identify challenges they are facing, and heard about unique needs facing students, educators, and staff as communities recover from the pandemic. Began distributing $800 million in ARP funds to support students experiencing homelessness. ED distributed $200 million of the $800 million in funding to learn more here help states identify students experiencing homelessness, provide wraparound services in light of the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide assistance to enable students experiencing homelessness to attend school and participate fully in school activities. ED announced the distribution of these funds at an event featuring voices of students experiencing homelessness from around the nation. The remaining $600 million in funding will go out this summer. Released nearly $1 billion in pandemic relief and other grant funds to Puerto Rico. In March, ED provided the Commonwealth immediate access to $912 million in federal education funds which had not been available to Puerto Rico as a result of previously imposed grant conditions. The release of funds marked a commitment from ED and the Biden Administration in supporting Puerto Rico as the Commonwealth recovers from the COVID-19 pandemic and recent natural disasters that have impacted students, families, and educators across the island. Held a National Safe School Reopening Summit and announced the launching of the Safer Schools and Campuses Best Practices Clearinghouse to share best practices on school reopening efforts. During the summit, states, districts, students, educators, staff, and parents heard from President Biden, Vice President Harris, First Lady Biden, Secretary Cardona, CDC Director Walensky, and engaged with each other about how to safely reopen more schools and support students as they return to in-person learning. Best practices at the summit and in the forthcoming Clearinghouse also focus on utilizing ARP and other federal funds to invest in under-resourced and underserved communities to make sure schools can reopen safely and stay open, and to ensure reopening efforts are advancing equity and rebuilding our education system better than it was before the pandemic.https://www.ed.gov/news/press-releases/100-days-biden-administration-how-department-education-has-helped-more-schools-safely-reopen-and-meet-students-needs