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WGLT, an NPR station in central Illinois, is following every move at the Rivian manufacturing plant in Normal, Illinois. The electric vehicle startup has gone from stealth mode to big-time player in the auto world, attracting attention (and big money) from companies like Ford and Amazon.

Rivian, Reditus Labs Donate $1M For Unit 5 COVID Testing

Emily Bollinger
Unit 5 will be able to offer onsite COVID-19 testing for students and staff, thanks to a $1 million donation from Rivian and Reditus Labs.

Unit 5 schools will receive $1 million in free COVID-19 testing. It's a joint donation from electric vehicle manufacturer Rivian and testing company Reditus Laboratories.

Rivian kicked in $500,000 to Pekin-based Reditus, which the company matched. The donation will pay for about 9,000 onsite COVID-19 tests for students and staff at no cost to the district.

The effort comes after a communitywide spike in positive cases forced the district to return to remote learning in mid-November.

In a statement, Reditus CEO Aaron Rossi said he hopes the testing allows Unit 5 to bring children back into the classroom when it's safe.

"I am a McLean County resident and my wife and I have four school-age children,” Rossi said. “So, we know firsthand the challenges of remote learning. It’s a tremendous hardship on the family. Everyone’s goal is to get the children back into the school buildings.”

Rivian began offering onsite testing for employees last week. The company said it wanted to extend the opportunity to the Bloomington-Normal community.

“The impacts of the pandemic have been hard on the whole community this year, and we wanted to do something to show our support for families and teachers,” said Zach Dietmeier, Rivian's communications and policy manager.

The logistics of Unit 5's testing are still being worked out. The district said testing will be voluntary.

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Dana Vollmer is a reporter with WGLT. Dana previously covered the state Capitol for NPR Illinois and Peoria for WCBU.
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