ONTARIO – A study completed by the Canadian Union of Public Employees (CUPE) estimates that making classrooms safe for students to return this fall will come with a heavy price tag.
“CUPE has used the lowest projected costs to arrive at an estimate of $589,330,762 – the amount needed to fully fund safe school reopenings in Ontario, or $1.49 per student per day. Funding a safe to return to school for students would require a 2.1% increase in the 2020-21 projected Grants for Student Needs (GSN) spending,” reads a statement from CUPE.
CUPE’s cost estimates were calculated based on
- 4800 schools in the province
- 1,431,697 elementary students
- 604,772 secondary students
- 194 days in the school year
- an average of 25 classrooms per school
- an average of 6 washrooms per school
- an average of 1 library + 1 school office + 1 gym + 1 special use classrooms per school
Summary of costs
- Touch free hand sanitizer dispensers in each used room in school: range from $1,392,000 to $4,036,800
- Refill of hand sanitizer: ranging from $66,816,000 to $82,128,000
- Cost to install hand-sanitizer dispensers: $1,920,000
- Plexiglass for school office and libraries: $2,112,000
- One additional custodian per school: $271,603,200
- Additional EA support: $135,801,600
- Opening up currently closed school spaces: $109,685,962
(Costs do not include costs associated with childcare centres located in schools or before- and after-school programs.)
In June, the Ontario Government announced a $736 million investment in the GSN program, but only $4 million of that will be for increased sanitation in schools.
The Ontario Parents Action Network projects that the Ford government will be spending $0.07 per day per pupil on school re-openings.
In their release to the media, CUPE expanded on where they got their projected numbers.
CUPE has based these costs on the needs identified by its members for
- additional custodial support for enhanced cleaning (high touch surfaces, washrooms, playground equipment, etc.)
- additional supports for students with special education needs, including additional EA support to assist with “cohorting” and restricting contact between different classes.
- funding for hand sanitizer dispensers for every classroom and every school entrance, additional hand washing stations, and staffing to install and refill as necessary
- funding for adequate PPE for staff (and students as required)
- professional and paraprofessional support to support additional classrooms
- mental health and wellbeing supports for students and staff
- plexiglass for school offices, libraries, and other staffed areas
- opening school spaces not currently used for instruction to accommodate smaller class sizes (including additional support and cleaning)
- childcare and before- and after-school programming
- additional requirements for student transportation