CLEVELAND (WJW) — The cost of COVID-19 for schools across Ohio is mounting well before the new school year even starts.
Some schools are installing plexiglass shields on each desk, in offices and cafeterias. They’re also buying masks and hand sanitizer for students and staff.
Janitorial staff will be expected to clean and sanitize high traffic areas frequently.
There are expected to be additional expenses for transportation to keep students safely distanced. The costs are adding up.
Schools are being reimbursed for the expenses through the federal CARES Act.
But at the same time a loss in revenue related to COVID-19 means that districts expect to lose even more than they have gained through decreased contributions from the state.
“We received about 800-thousand dollars in CARES act money, which is money that’s supposed to offset the cost of COVID-19 for us, but you have to keep in mind that we took a 1.6 million dollar cut in state funding so now we are down 800-thousand,” Willoughby-Eastlake Superintendent Steve Thompson.
Thompson told Fox 8 News that his district is also hiring additional custodians for the coming year.
“We are projecting three and a half to four million dollars in additional expenditures for COVID-19 if we are open all year, so the costs become prohibitive,” said Thompson.
Many school districts are finalizing their plans for the school year and still cannot calculate the impact.
At Crestwood Schools in Mantua, superintendent David Toth strongly believes the best place for students is in school, not at home, but he is also having to compensate for a decrease in revenue.
“We just also purchased hand sanitizer when you enter and leave the room, and every classroom will also have spray bottles of disinfectant, and we purchased backpack disinfecting fogging machines to disinfect our buses and classrooms and other areas at night,” said Toth.
“We received roughly about $178-thousand in CARES from the federal government which was distributed from the state to us, that’s covering basically the cost of our plexiglass, our cleaning machinea, some of the sanitizer, the masks and the face shields. So that will cover a little bit but you know at the same time we lost $350,000 roughly the last fiscal year from the state funding and we will lose roughly another $350,000 in the next fiscal year, so the 178-thousand dollars doesn’t cover the loss that we lost from the state so we are dealing with that as well,” he explained.
Every district across the state also knows that whatever plan they have will have to be able to adapt and change in a moment’s notice, as districts had to do this past fall when schools closed and were forced to invent fully remote classrooms.
“I can only speak for my district, other districts are in a worse scenario than I am but yeah it doesnt cover the cost,” said Toth.
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