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COVID costs Palm Beach County schools $80 million

Written by Mamie M. Arndt

The bill to operate Palm Beach County’s public schools during a pandemic, to mask up students and teachers, to deep-clean classrooms, to blanket the county with internet access and hand out computers to log on, so far totals more than $80 million, with less than half of those expenses covered by federal relief packages to date. 

These are, of course, only the immediate costs. 

No doubt, the bill to address learning lost and emotional tolls taken on students will be significant and stretch beyond the day when everyone can comfortably return to a classroom. 

More:Pandemic turning point: Most PBC public school students are now back on campus

While those losses and their remedies lie down the road, district officials have tallied COVID-related costs from the time students were sent home for remote learning last spring through the end of this school year. The inventory was shared with the district’s budget advisory committee in January.

Palm Beach County School Superintendent Donald Fennoy, center, does the ceremonial coin toss as Royal Palm Beach quarterback Peyton Mainolfi, left and Wellington defensive tackle Denali Smith, right, look on before the start of the game between Wellington and Royal Palm Beach last October.

The biggest ticket item: the cost to clean and provide physical protection for those on campus, which hit $16.3 million in early January and is expected to ring in at $29.6 million by school year’s end.  

That sum includes:

  • 57 million wipes totaling $4.4 million,
  • 2.5 million face coverings for students and staff at $1.8 million
  • 200,000 boxes of gloves for $1.7 million
  • 15,000 plexiglass sneeze guards for $1.1 million.  

About the author

Mamie M. Arndt