Parenting in a Pandemic

School districts weigh health risks and costs of reopening in the fall

Justin Ho Jul 14, 2020
Heard on: Marketplace Morning Report
HTML EMBED:
COPY
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is sticking with online classes come August, has over 600,000 students. Testing them for COVID-19 could cost $300 per student over the year. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
Parenting in a Pandemic

School districts weigh health risks and costs of reopening in the fall

Justin Ho Jul 14, 2020
The Los Angeles Unified School District, which is sticking with online classes come August, has over 600,000 students. Testing them for COVID-19 could cost $300 per student over the year. Robyn Beck/AFP via Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

The Los Angeles Unified School District will not reopen when school starts again in August, as COVID-19 cases spike in Southern California. Online learning will continue indefinitely in the nation’s second-largest school district. Across the country, school districts are weighing the costs of reopening.

In addition to the potential health risks of reopening during the pandemic, districts would have to pay for protective gear, for expanding the square footage of schools to make social distancing possible and for more buses.

“You’re looking at a significant increase in your transportation costs,” said Noelle Ellerson Ng with the American Association of School Administrators.

The organization found that, on average, districts are facing nearly $2 million in reopening costs.

“And an average district enrolls 3,500 students. And LA is no average district,” Ng said.

It has over 600,000 students, and LA says that testing those students and staff for the virus could cost $300 per student over the year.

But keeping kids at home also comes with costs. Julie Marsh, an education policy professor at the University of Southern California said that in the spring, teachers had problems using online tools.

“A lot of the challenges had to do with teachers not knowing how to even get students to show up, and turn on their screens, and to engage,” Marsh said.

LA’s school district said teachers and students will receive additional training in online education.

COVID-19 Economy FAQs

What’s going on with extra COVID-19 unemployment benefits?

The latest: President Donald Trump signed an executive action directing $400 extra a week in unemployment benefits. But will that aid actually reach people? It’s still unclear. Trump directed federal agencies to send $300 dollars in weekly aid, taken from the federal disaster relief fund, and called on states to provide an additional $100. But states’ budgets are stretched thin as it is.

What’s the latest on evictions?

For millions of Americans, things are looking grim. Unemployment is high, and pandemic eviction moratoriums have expired in states across the country. And as many people already know, eviction is something that can haunt a person’s life for years. For instance, getting evicted can make it hard to rent again. And that can lead to spiraling poverty.

Which retailers are requiring that people wear masks when shopping? And how are they enforcing those rules?

Walmart, Target, Lowe’s, CVS, Home Depot, Costco — they all have policies that say shoppers are required to wear a mask. When an employee confronts a customer who refuses, the interaction can spin out of control, so many of these retailers are telling their workers to not enforce these mandates. But, just having them will actually get more people to wear masks.

You can find answers to more questions on unemployment benefits and COVID-19 here.

As a nonprofit news organization, our future depends on listeners like you who believe in the power of public service journalism.

Your investment in Marketplace helps us remain paywall-free and ensures everyone has access to trustworthy, unbiased news and information, regardless of their ability to pay.

Donate today — in any amount — to become a Marketplace Investor. Now more than ever, your commitment makes a difference.