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COVID precautions costly for Ohio schools

Columbus Dispatch |

A survey, conducted by reporters in the USA TODAY Network, shows districts expect to spend on average of $129 more per student this school year due to the additional precautions, equipment and personnel.

Some of Ohio’s largest districts, such as Cincinnati Public Schools with nearly 36,000 students, have spent millions on the additional COVID-19 precautions. Even the smallest of Ohio’s districts, such as Sebring Local Schools with 420 students in Mahoning County, have spent hundreds of thousands of dollars.

An analysis by the School Superintendents Association and the Association of School Business Officials International in June estimated that an average school district – defined as 3,659 students, eight school buildings, 183 classrooms, 329 employees and 40 school buses transporting at 25% capacity – would need to spend an additional $1.78 million, or $486 per student, to follow the safety protocols needed.

The American Federation of Teachers’ financial analysis put the cost to return even higher – estimating an additional cost of $2,300 per student.

Both groups included expenses for before- and after-school child care that the Ohio school districts surveyed aren’t providing, and for additional personnel that most of the districts haven’t yet decided to hire.

While all the districts surveyed reported increased costs due to additional cleaning supplies and protective barriers, it was the expense to provide online learning for those students not comfortable with face-to-face classes that has significantly boosted costs.