What price could some districts pay to reopen schools safely?

AASA COVID-19 task force calculates how much it could cost school systems to reopen on average and reveals some strategies K-12 leaders are considering to make up for the 'COVID slide'
By: | May 22, 2020
Photo by Ivan Aleksic on Unsplash

The cost of reopening school systems safely could require some districts to pay approximately $900 per student. Meanwhile, the accrued learning loss associated with online learning is leading some superintendents to consider resuming classes as early as July.

These revelations came during a weekly panel established by the AASA, The School Superintendents Association to provide solutions to the coronavirus crisis.

As these obstacles to safely reopening schools continue to rise, some parents are thinking of not sending their children back to school, the task force panel revealed. This would help districts meet the nearly $1,000 average price tag needed per student to reopen safely.

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In Maryland, a large percentage of parents at Montgomery County Public Schools indicated not feeling comfortable with sending their kids back to school and possibly keeping their children home, says Daniel A. Domenech, executive director of the AASA, a professional organization for more than 13,000 educational leaders in the U.S. “I’m hearing the same message from superintendents around the country.”

Making up for learning loss

Aside from financial burdens, superintendents are considering year-round scheduling to make up for “the COVID slide,” since teaching would take place over the course of 12 months as opposed to 10. Another option includes reopening schools earlier than usual.

“The incident rates in some communities are very low and have been decreasing, which would allow some schools to adopt blended learning as early as July if the situation is appropriate,” says Domenech. “In these cases, schools could get a head start on gaining back the learning loss that occurred last quarter.”

Last week, the task force recommended that district leaders should not feel obligated to follow state legislation that requires their schools to reopen earlier than established safety guidelines recommend, though it was encouraged that leaders understand the legal implications involved in failing to comply.

Earlier, the task force concluded that the process of reopening schools should not occur until the summer or fall and that districts do not possess the necessary funds to implement policies that would keep students safe in school.

“Superintendents are trying to be as creative as possible,” says Domenech. “But they need to be, since they are trying to fit the square peg in a round hole.”

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