Virginia Faces Hefty Price Tag to Send Kids Back to School

Jul 14, 2020

The question about when and how to reopen schools isn’t just a question about health and safety.

How much will it cost to reopen Virginia’s schools this fall? In order to make that happen, schools will need a lot of Plexiglas, PPE and nurses, plus all those extra new staff members working to keep children physically separated. The potential cost is anywhere from $600 million to $3 billion for the coming school year.

Chad Stewart at the Commonwealth Institute says lawmakers are about to consider a plan to allot funding that was put on hold back in April. 

“And what we know about a lot of that new budget funding is that it would benefit schools with the highest share of students from low-income households and students of color the most," he explains. "Those are a lot of the schools that are going to face the most barriers to reopening come this fall if they choose to do so.”

Jim Livingston at the Virginia Education Association says teachers are worried they’ll get into the classroom only to find the necessary precautions have not been taken. 

“Our folks honestly are skeptical because educators have been let time and time again by promises of funding for resources to do their jobs," says Livingston. "And those resources simply have not materialized.”

Lawmakers will be returning to Richmond in August, when they’ll make decisions about how much money schools can spend on reopening and how much liability local school boards will have for keeping students, teachers and staff protected from COVID-19.

**Editor's Note: The Virginia Education Association is a financial supporter of RADIO IQ.

This report, provided by Virginia Public Radio, was made possible with support from the Virginia Education Association.