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COVID-19 Resource Center

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
December 31, 2020
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CDC researchers estimate cost to safely reopen schools

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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CDC researchers estimated that the average school district would need to invest between $55 and $442 per student to safely return to in-person learning, according to a report published in MMWR.

Ketra L. Rice, PhD, a health economist for the CDC, and colleagues from the CDC COVID-19 Response Team identified three categories and estimated how much it would cost each school district in materials and consumables, additional custodial staff members, and potential additional transportation to safely reopen.

An average of $55 per student would provide materials and consumables only, they calculated. A maximum average of $442 per student would also provide custodial staff and additional transportation.

“These estimates provide schools, districts, and other jurisdictions with the cost information necessary to budget and prioritize resources during the COVID-19 pandemic,” the authors wrote.

These costs would cover five mitigation strategies the authors determined would lead to a safe reopening for schools, students, teachers and administrators:

  • Consistent and correct use of masks;
  • Social distancing to the extent possible;
  • Hand hygiene and respiratory etiquette;
  • Cleaning and disinfection;
  • Contact tracing in collaboration with local health departments.

The authors noted that another mitigation strategy that could concurrently be used would be to cohort and stagger scheduling of classes.