NEW ALBANY, Ind. (WAVE) - Who would have thought back-to-school supplies would include masks, gloves, thermometers, and plexiglass dividers?
That’s what area districts have to buy in order for kids to return to the classroom. It’s going to cost a lot of money for area districts planning on offering in person classes this year.
New Albany-Floyd County Schools are planning to start school July 29. There are two choices: Children can go back to the classroom or they can learn virtually. But in order to get the doors open at the district, the district has to purchase certain supplies.
”We were buying gloves, masks, hand sanitizers, disinfecting (products),” New Albany-Floyd County School Associate Superintendent, Dr. Louis Jensen said.
NAFCS is made up of 11,600 students. Jensen said the district is budgeting $250,000 on supplies and personal protective equipment (PPE), and $1.2 million on devices for students in grades K-12, as well as laptops for teachers.
”We don’t have that kind of money; we did not have that money set aside,” Jensen said. No district does. Jensen said that’s where the CARES Act comes in; money from the federal government helps cover the expenses of returning to school during the pandemic.
”The CARES Act covered everything we needed to do to move to a one-to-one district and provide our beginning-of-the-year PPE supplies,” Jensen said.
For Jefferson County Public Schools, a much larger district made up of 98,000 students, its costs are expected to be significantly higher if they return to in-person learning.
”It could be anywhere between $15 million and $18 million,” JCPS Chief of Communications Renee Murphy said. “That could be spent on masks, to cover hand sanitizer, thermometers. We’ll have to (perform) temperature checks for students. There is significant cost with this.”
JCPS also got money through the CARES Act, about $30 million, but the district said that one-time allotment is not enough to cover its anticipated needs, especially when it comes to electronic devices like Chromebooks for students.
”We provided 20,000 Chromebooks to students last year,” Murphy said. “We know we would need to distribute more if we had to go back to a virtual option.”
All districts are preparing for Plan B -- nontraditional instruction.
”We’ve all seen the numbers of where we are right now with (coronavirus) cases,” Murphy said. “So, even if we do have in-person instruction, we know that we have to be ready to go back to a fully virtual option.”
JCPS has not made a decision yet on a plan for the upcoming school year. It expects to make a decision soon.