Classroom Costs: Safety measures to cost school districts millions of dollars

The Investigators

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCBD)– South Carolina school districts are tallying the costs related to coronavirus safety measures in classrooms.

Tri-county school districts plan to seek CARES Act funding to cover some of the cost.

The South Carolina Department of Education received $216 million in Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Funding from the CARES Act.

Berkeley County School District’s proposed CARES Act funding totals $6,789,070. The uses include $2,428,980 for Chromebooks and hotspots and $2,435,136 for additional support positions like substitutes and nurses.

BCSD, PROPOSED CARES ACT FUNDING USES

The proposed spending uses were approved by the Berkeley County Board of Education on July 14, 2020. The proposed uses for CARES Act funding will be presented to the South Carolina Department of Education for approval.

According to the district, SC CARES ESSER 202 is a sub grant program funded and authorized by the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund and administered by the South Carolina Department of Education.

Funds must be spent by September 30, 2021.

On July 10, Charleston County School District released presented preliminary cost estimates totaling about $6,000,000.

$3.2 million is slated for the materials and installation needed for plexiglass partitions. Chief Operating Officer Jeff Borowy said, the partitions can increase capacity by more than 40%.

Borowy also noted that dividers will not be needed in every classroom.

Other cost estimates include $506,800 for bus disinfection and $549,801 for additional fogging machines and disinfectant.

A CCSD spokesperson said the costs will be payed for with a combination of CARES Act fund and money from the general operating fund.

Dorchester District 2 estimated at least $3 million to cover the following areas for COVID safety measures:

·  Electrostatic backpack and handheld sprayers; disinfecting tablets $500,000

·  Increased volume of cleaning solutions, cleaning equipment, and supplies needed for sanitization of buildings and buses $600,000

· Additional hand sanitizing stations, and Water-bottle filling stations  $400,000

· Signage for entry points, hygiene areas, hallways $100,000

· Reusable cloth masks for all staff not provided by State; Reusable cloth masks for students; Reusable masks with clear panels for employees interacting with students; disposable masks for visitors; Surgical masks, and reusable and disposable face shields for nurses and isolation area personnel  $400,000

· Additional staffing and supplemental services to handle increased cleaning and sanitizing of buildings and buses as necessary $1,000,000

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