Berkeley Co. schools will use $6.7 million from CARES Act for safety measures to reopen schools

Berkeley Co. schools will use $6.7 million from CARES Act for safety measures to reopen schools

CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - The Berkeley County School District plans to use more than $6.7 million from the CARES Act to reopen schools this fall.

Some of the money will pay for safety measures like 25,000 face masks, 10,000 reusable cloth face masks, and 4,500 face shields for adults.

The half a million dollars allocated to pay for supplies to clean and sanitize facilities will also include the purchase of latex gloves, disposable gowns, hand sanitizer, privacy curtains, sneeze guards, privacy shields, cordless back sprayer and solution, air purifiers and UV light installation in HVAC unites and 100 thermometers to be used across all locations.

However, most of the money will be spent on new chromebooks and hotspots for virtual learning and more substitute teachers and school nurses.

“We are trying to get to a point where even kindergarteners, if they have selected an online learning path, that they have a chromebook and they have internet access,” BCSD spokesperson Brian Troutman said.

About $2.5 million dollars will pay for 4400 chromebooks and 1000 hotspots.

“We want to make sure that if our students, no matter their age, no matter their grade level, if they select that online learning path, that we are doing everything we can to accommodate them where we can,” Troutman said.

Just over $800,000 will be used to keep kids fed no matter which learning option their parents choose.

“We have a lot of people in Berkeley County that are living below the poverty line,” Troutman said. “Our folks are looking closely at what we can do as far as feeding our students in need come school year whether they are in a traditional classroom setting or they chose a virtual online path.”

A smaller portion of the funds will provide more mental health support and services.

While the funding isn’t enough to cover everything necessary to keep students and staff members safe, officials said they will use it to do what they can.

“I don’t think there’s a dollar amount on that,” Troutman said. “I think you could spend $10 to $20 million on a school district our size and still feel like you haven’t spent enough, but we’ve pitched this to our school administrators and school leaders as ‘supplemental.’ This is what we are going to try to use to give us some buffer.”

Officials said, to the extent that it’s practical, face masks are encouraged for all students and staff.

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