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UPSD Facing Mounting Costs for In-person Learning
Written by Bradley Schlegel, Staff Writer
2020-09-16

            If students in the Upper Perkiomen School District return to some form of in-person school in November, the cost could reach several hundred thousand dollars due to concerns over COVID-19. During last week's regular school board meeting, administrators identified multiple related expenses.

            Superintendent Allyn Roche told the members that the issue of potentially transitioning to a hybrid or a 100 percent in-person instructional model would be considered during an Oct. 22 workshop meeting. Students in the district will remain in total virtual learning through at least Nov. 20. According to Assistant Superintendent Andrea Farina, 100 students with special needs are currently receiving face-to-face instructions in three buildings.

            "There are many factors to consider," Roche said during the Sept. 10 regular meeting.

            Administrators will rely on guidance presented by the Pennsylvania departments of Education and Health, as well as the Montgomery County Health Department in making their recommendation to members for the approval of a transition to a hybrid of virtual and in-person learning, or 100 percent face-to-face instruction.

            The superintendent told the members that the cases in the county were slowly going in the wrong direction.

            In order for the district to return to full in-person instruction, county incident rates must fall below 10 cases per 100,000 residents, and the positivity rate must drop below five percent over a seven-day period.

            For the implementation of a hybrid model, cases must be between 10 and 100 per 100,000 residents or the positivity rate should be between five and 10 percent over a seven-day period. When the case rate reaches 100 cases per 100,000 residents, or the rate gets to 10 percent, full remote is required, according to the presentation from Farina.

            "These are the factors to consider," Roche said during the meeting, held at the middle school on Montgomery Avenue and hosted on Zoom.

            Farina also identified numerous non-budgeted expenses that would be necessary should the district shift to some degree of in-person instruction. The presentation recommends the addition of 10 custodians at a cost of between $815 to $905.20 per day, hiring one additional nurse at an hourly rate between $43 and $53, cost of between $1,612.50 and $1,987.50 per day, the reinstatement of all food service employees if the school goes 100 percent in-person along with the posting and interviews for multiple positions currently placed on hold.

            In terms of facilities, the administration recommends the purchase of two HEPA filters, at a cost of $3,800 each, for school isolation rooms, a preventative HVAC review at a projected cost of $5,000 per each school, the acquisition of additional Personal Protective Equipment on top of the materials already purchased by the district at a cost of $91,000, and continuing to rely on the recommendations of an industrial hygienist. According to Farina, the district would continue to cover those services with a $70,000 state COVID-19 grant.

            "We wanted to remind you that the essential things are still relevant," Farina told the board.


 

 

 

 

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