Save the Date for tomorrow's Digital Day of Action! Parent leaders from across the District will be getting loud on social media to amplify their vision for a family-centered response to Coronavirus and the #DCSchoolsRecovery campaign!

The Cost of COVID: Our Kids are Worth It

COVID-19 is an unprecedented crisis that requires an unprecedented response. Our kids need us and they are worth it. 

Coronavirus has impacted each and every one one of our communities and created an unprecedented crisis - across the world, in our country, and in the District. We’ve seen our city’s people come together in support of each other and lift each other up during this uncertain time, but we know that families are still struggling and our city must do more to take care of ALL our people. 

Our SCHOOLS have been a critical resource to families and communities during this challenging time, especially for those who have been disproportionately impacted by Coronavirus - communities of color and low-income families. 

Schools have quickly stepped up to fill in the gaps and needs of those they serve, including providing food, technology and internet, mental health support, and so much more.

And yet - this important work has come at a considerable cost and has required schools to learn entirely new ways of doing this important work of educating our kids.

The cost of COVID-19 is significant...

Schools, like everyone else, did not plan for this. They have quickly shifted their budgets to take on new costs to meet this moment and help ensure the health and safety of kids and families. 

These additional costs include:

  • Cleaning services and supplies

  • PPE for staff and students

  • Tech acquisition and support for distance learning like devices and hotspots

  • Additional staffing to ensure physical and mental safety for students (nurses, mental health professionals, etc.)

  • Additional training for teachers and additional staff/time so students don’t fall farther behind, especially in a phased reopening in the fall with distance and in-person learning

What will that mean for schools in the 2020-2021 School Year? 

Schools are facing huge gaps as they look to plan for next school year.

They were already underfunded (about 7% below the level recommended in the 2013 DC Adequacy Study), but additional costs due to COVID-19 have now intensified the existing problem. 

  • Larger networks (schools with 4,000+) are anticipating they will spend an additional $3-4 million, or about $650 per student.

  • Smaller networks don’t have the benefit of scale, yet they have to provide the same supports. Especially for schools with younger students, the per student cost can run as high as an additional $1,100 per student. 

DCPS, the city’s largest Local Education Agency, faces similar challenges in navigating meeting the needs of so many diverse school communities.

In light of this, we know that more is needed to close the gap.

If the city followed through on its pre-COVID promise of a 4% increase to the Uniform Per Student Funding Formula (UPSFF), schools are STILL looking at a loss between roughly $150-$700 per student because of the cost of COVID. 

If we increase the at-risk weight to the level recommended in the 2013 adequacy study, that would help close some gaps, but not all. 

  • A 0.37 at-risk weight would close COVID budget gap for large schools, but the increase is minimal.  

  • For small schools, there would still be a significant gap.

Budgets show our values, let’s step up for our kids.

Our “old normal” wasn’t working for all of our kids. Low-income and Black and brown communities deserve more and have been short-changed for too long. We know that times are tough, but that is exactly why we, as a city, must step up and do MORE - not scale back - to ensure our schools and our kids have the resources they need and deserve.

When we return to school in the fall, whether that is virtually or in-person, kids will need a safe, nurturing school environment that can help them cope and heal from this trauma and support their mental health. They will need access to a great education so that their futures and our city’s future remains bright.

NOW is our opportunity to meet this moment with an unprecedented response and matching investment - because we know our kids are worth it. 

That’s EXACTLY why parent leaders are going to #SquadUp tomorrow for a Digital Day of Action.

We’ll be sharing their stories and their visions for #DCSchoolsRecovery on social media. Follow along tomorrow!

In the meantime, you can take action NOW to tell our city leaders to prioritize education and school-based mental health supports in this year’s budget. 

Together, let’s show our #DCValues.

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