Public School Board Getting Better Idea of COVID-19 Financial Impacts

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The Greater Essex County District School Board is getting a clearer picture of how the COVID-19 pandemic is going to impact its finances.

Initial projections are showing an additional $11.7-million will be needed for purchasing items like personal protective equipment, cleaning supplies and hiring additional teachers and custodians.

Superintendent Shelly Armstrong says, to this point, the board has received $7.9-million in pandemic funding from the Ministry of Education but its not clear if more help is on the way.

Armstrong  says many numbers are clear, but there are still a lot of unknowns.

"Some of the items we would be reasonably confident, the cost of filters for example, the internet costs, the costs of the technology. Those costs are reasonably certain. Some of the costs that are tricky, absenteeism as a result of the pandemic. Those are very, very difficult," she says.

Armstrong says all departments have been instructed to keep a close eye on their budgets.

"Everyone has gotten the message very clearly about being very careful about how they're spending their budgets and we are looking for opportunities. It's difficult to say, I don't know if there will be more funding. Funding announcements were coming almost every week and because it's so fluid that could change," she says.

Armstrong says they're added more than 50 new teachers, but that number may have to be increased.

"At this time we have approximately 54 teachers that we've added to the system and as we keep changing, potentially, the opt in and opt out dates that changes the dynamics in the classroom whether it's a virtual classroom or an in school classroom," she says.

Armstrong adds the situation continues to change on a daily basis and financials are likely to change going forward as well.

The board is scheduled to submit a revised budget to the ministry in December.