SEATTLE (AP) — As Washington state continues to reel from the pandemic, Microsoft has announced an additional $110 million of support for schools, nonprofits and hourly workers in the region.
The company has continued paying the workers who staff its lobbies, cafes and shuttlebuses, and who perform audiovisual and other tasks, even as they haven't been needed on campus.
It said Thursday it will continue to do so until the campus fully re-opens, which isn't expected before July. Microsoft has already spent $110 million on their wages and anticipates spending $50 million more through March.
In addition, the company said it would spend an additional $60 million in cash and in-kind contributions to support nonprofit organizations in Washington state, beyond the $98 million it's already provided.
And, as Gov. Jay Inslee this week urged schools to consider reopening for younger and needier pupils, Microsoft said that it would provide school districts with free technology to track and report COVID-19 testing data within district boundaries.
Microsoft said it will also donate personal protection equipment and cleaning supplies, through the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, for any school districts that need additional supplies to reopen safely.
In its announcement Thursday, the company said that while it's crucial to inoculate frontline health workers, teachers also should be prioritized for vaccines.
“We recognize that Governor Inslee and the leaders at the Department of Health will need to make the critical decisions about the precise order of who can be vaccinated and when,” Microsoft President Brad Smith said in a blog post. “We believe that if teachers, school administrators and staff in higher risk categories at the K-5 level were eligible to get a Covid vaccine in January, it would help these schools take a critical step towards reopening more quickly.”