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Willoughby-Eastlake Schools Budgeting To Accommodate PPE Expenses

Some students are back at school starting Monday in the Willoughby-Eastlake School District and administrators are enacting new policies to prevent spread of the coronavirus. But the protection comes with a price tag.

Willoughby-Eastlake received about $1.2 million from the federal CARES Act, said Superintendent Steve Thompson. But coronavirus-related expenditures – including masks and disinfecting supplies – could total between $3.5 million and $4 million for the district this year, he said.

“That certainly does not even come close to covering all of our expenditures, not to mention the fact that we’re losing about $3.2 million in state funding,” Thompson said.

This year’s annual budget accounts for COVID-19 protections, Thompson said, and the school district is prepared to address concerns.

“I wouldn’t consider COVID at this point to be unforeseen, we’ve budgeted for that,” he said.

While voters approved a school levy on the third try earlier this year, Thompson said collection of those funds won’t start until January 2021.

“We’ve done a cash analysis to see where we are through December, because that’s going to be our tightest month of this year from a financial perspective, and we think we have what we need,” Thompson said.

About 30 percent of students opted for online learning to start the 2020-21 academic year, Thompson said, leaving about 6,000 to attend in person. Students are being asked to bring their own masks, he said, but about 15,000 masks have been distributed to buildings in the district.

“We can handle a situation where someone perhaps can’t get access to a mask for any reason, we have them,” Thompson said.

The district is supplying masks to teachers, Thompson said, and face shields will be given to district speech pathologists so students can see their lips. Face shields also will be available for school nurses to provide additional protection, he said.

The district ordered some Clorox 360 sprayers earlier this year to aid in cleaning buildings, Thompson said, which arrived in the last several days.

“We’re in a little bit better position than some,” Thompson said. “We have enough of the substance, we believe, to get us through until we get the rest in October.”

Officials are looking at how to aid in social distancing on buses to and from school, he said, including adding more routes to lessen the number of students on each bus. But the district is limited by the number of vehicles and staff who can drive them, he said.

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