Re-opening schools may not be as easy as it sounds.

Complying with CDC guidelines may be cost prohibitive and logistically impossible.
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One of my biggest coronavirus concerns has been the school-shut-down impact on kids … both socially and educationally.

Since children are negligibly hurt by the virus (i.e. lower infection vulnerability, minor or no symptoms when infected, low transmission-forward rate),  I’ve been a advocate for re-opening schools ASAP.

I’ve been implicitly assuming that “cleaning” the schools’ environment would be no big deal … just move the desks further apart and double down on nighttime deep-cleaning.

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I’ve been glossing over the economics and the logistics…

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According to US News …

Adhering to CDC safety recommendations for reopening is becoming an overwhelming problem and many school districts are considering a continuation of distance learning.

What’s the problem?

For openers, it’s estimated that  schools may need to spend an additional $500 per student in order to cover costs associated with:

  • Cleaning supplies: hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes.
  • Protective equipment: gloves, masks
  • Additional custodial staff to do the extra cleaning
  • School nurses (at least one per school)
  • Bus aides (to do temperature checks and maintain separation)
  • Additional teachers (or teacher aides) to enable smaller class sizes

The additional expenses for an average school district of about 4,000 students could total around $2 million.

And, that doesn’t count any required capital improvements to provide enough working faucets for frequent handwashing … or upgraded HVA systems to improve air quality and filtration.

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Then, there are logistical hurdles…

For example, 55% of K-to- 12 students take a bus to school.

Bus fleets would need to quadruple in size to safely transport 100% of students under COVID-19 distancing guidelines.

And, of course, each bus needs a driver … and, drivers are always in short supply.

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Maybe reopening the schools isn’t as easy as I thought.

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Thanks to MKH for feeding the lead.

One Response to “Re-opening schools may not be as easy as it sounds.”

  1. Ash Kaluarachchi Says:

    Prof. Homa, I’m a MSB ‘12 and a Frequent reader of your blog. This post, and your post on the “summer slide”, resonated with me. I run a company that invests in and advises education innovators (‘EdTech’). My cofounder and I published the following ideas on how school facilities can change to enable “distance teaching” rather than “distance learning. I’d appreciate your comments, pros and cons, on the strategy: https://www-nydailynews-com.cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/www.nydailynews.com/opinion/ny-oped-reimagine-schools-to-reopen-them-20200609-sdnycurlnncuhkq3hdz3qszhti-story.html?outputType=amp

    Ash Kaluarachchi
    https://www.linkedin.com/in/ashanthaik

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