- The Washington Times - Wednesday, June 10, 2020

The American Federation of Teachers warns that reopening the nation’s schools with additional health protocols in the age of the coronavirus crisis has a huge price tag. The organization makes its case in a new study released Wednesday, just as a Senate committee meets to discuss the strategy.

“The analysis costs an additional $116.5 billion for instructional staff, distance learning, before- and after-school care, transportation, personal protective equipment, cleaning and health supplies, health staffing, custodial and cleaning staff, meeting children’s social and emotional needs and additional academic support for students. The average school will need to see an extra $1.2 million, or $2,300 per student, to open its doors,” the group said in a statement.

That’s not all, however. Funds are also needed, the union said, “to offset revenue losses and address the cuts that have already cost local education systems 750,000 jobs.”

The Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions hearing titled “Returning to School Safely,” chaired by Sen. Lamar Alexander, will meet virtually on Wednesday. The Tennessee Republican has previously addressed the concerns of the nation’s 6,000 colleges and universities seeking to reopen safely; find his statement here.

“This is a five-alarm fire. Since late April we have been exploring ways to safely reopen school buildings in the fall. Our children need it, and our families deserve it. Our educators want it, and the economy won’t recover without it. But if schools can’t get the money they need to safely reopen, then they won’t reopen, period,” Randi Weingarten, union president, said in a statement.

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