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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

COVID-19 Pandemic Has Cost CPS $35M To Date

Ambriehl Crutchfield

The COVID-19 pandemic has cost Cincinnati Public Schools $35 million to date according to CPS’s CFO and treasurer.

Jennifer Wagner said one of the biggest challenges the district is facing is reduced revenue from the state. She said it’s taking a lot of time and collaboration to balance a budget with this obstacle.

"I’m anticipating more reductions from the state this year," Wagner said. "We forecasted a little bit, but if it goes beyond my forecast, then we might have to do mid-year budget reductions."

Additional budget challenges the district faces relate to the unanticipated costs of remote learning and COVID safety.

"How fast are we going to go through our cleaning supplies and our masks and gloves?" Wagner said. "How many employees are going to go out on leave? It might be leave without pay, but we’re still paying benefits on them, and then we’re paying for their substitute and their benefits."

So far, $8 million has been spent to ensure each school has enough substitute teachers. This will allow for subs not to go to different schools, which could decrease the risk for spreading COVID-19.

The Board of Education will meet Monday to discuss plans for returning to school. The board is tracking the community’s positivity rate and the Ohio Public Health Advisory System to determine the safest method going forward.

Credit Jennifer Wagner (screenshot from presentation on Sep. 2, 2020) / Cincinnati Public Schools
Cincinnati Public Schools
These are the return plan options that were discussed during a board meeting on Sep. 2, 2020.

The board will decide between several plans, including whether to stick with remote learning or go to school five days a week. Schools could begin using the new plan starting Sep. 28.

The meeting starts at 6:30.

Cory Sharber attended Murray State University majoring in journalism and political science and comes to Cincinnati Public Radio from NPR Member station WKMS.