Calculating the costs: Districts stocking up on PPE before school starts

Reopening Schools in Arkansas

LITTLE ROCK, Ark.- As students get ready to rush back to the classroom, districts are running up bills in preparations amid the coronavirus pandemic.

“Ordering of PPE, new technology, putting a plan together,” said William Rountree, Superintendent of Carlisle Schools.

Rountree is the superintendent of about 600 students.

He says the CARES Act added $86,000 to their budget, but that doesn’t quite cover the money their rural school district has had to spend in order to reopen at the end of August. He knows it down to the cents.

“We spent about $109,784 worth of new technology, and we’ve spent $12,224.78 worth of PPE, and that’s probably not all that will be spent in those areas,” Rountree said.

When it comes to protecting the hundreds of students in the Carlisle School District is more than just making sure those kids mask up.

“If you are riding the bus, we are going to still bus,” Rountree said. “Your temperature will be taken at the bus stop.”

Extra measures that come at a cost, one that has racked up a lot higher in the Hot Springs School District that has over 3,500 students enrolled.

“To date, we’ve spent over $159,000 on PPE,” said Adriane Barnes, the media coordinator for the Hot Springs School District.

Barnes wouldn’t disclose how much it received from the CARES Act, but says they are in good shape financially and stocked up.

“Purchased masks, face shields, sanitizer and sanitizing stations, water bottles, have in the works to purchase plexiglass divider for each desk,” Barnes said.

Like all school districts, Hot Springs is doing what it can to prevent COVID-19 from creating a classroom disruption.

“Every type of PPE that we can get a hold of that’s recommended, we are purchasing,” said Barnes. “We will make sure our staff members and our students are equipped with what they need to feel safe.”

Big or small, both districts hope the preparations add up to an equation that eliminates the threat of COVID-19 for students when the morning bell rings.

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