CCSSO Submits Cost Estimate for Safely Reopening Public Schools After COVID

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Washington, D.C. (June 24, 2020) – The cost of safely reopening schools this fall in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic is estimated to be between $158.1 billion and $244.6 billion, the Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) said in a letter sent today to the Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee Chairman Lamar Alexander.

The letter is a response to a request made by Chairman Alexander during a June 10 hearing, “COVID-19: Going Back to School Safely,” to estimate the projected costs schools will face, and the extent to which those costs can be covered by federal aid allocated under the CARES Act.

“While the amount of federal funding that is necessary to successfully and safely reopen schools and keep K-12 education budgets whole in the coming year is substantial, it is an essential investment in the nation’s ongoing economic recovery and future competitiveness. As long as our K-12 school buildings remain closed, our country’s economy cannot get back up and running and our economy will continue to suffer trillion-dollar losses,” writes CCSSO Executive Director Carissa Moffat Miller. “At the same time, we must address the significant academic and social-emotional impacts on students throughout this crisis and help them overcome the considerable learning loss and trauma they have experienced if we are ever to ensure a thriving economy in the years to come.”

In the letter, CCSSO outlines how states will need flexibility within the CARES Act as well as the additional funding. The estimate includes costs associated with operating remote and in-person instruction, addressing students’ academic learning loss, and anticipated decline in state and local funding for education stemming from reductions in income, sales, and other tax revenues.

These cost estimates do not represent a specific request for additional federal aid in one piece of legislation, but are the best estimate for what states will need now and over the next two years to mitigate and recover from the pandemic. CCSSO remains eager to work with Congress on how to offset these temporary additional costs to ensure we can meet the needs of every child in the upcoming school year.

The full letter is available here.


The Council of Chief State School Officers (CCSSO) is a nonpartisan, nationwide, nonprofit organization of public officials who head departments of elementary and secondary education in the states, the District of Columbia, the Department of Defense Education Activity, Bureau of Indian Education, and five U.S. extra-state jurisdictions. CCSSO provides leadership, advocacy, and technical assistance on major educational issues. The Council seeks member consensus on major educational issues and expresses their views to civic and professional organizations, federal agencies, Congress, and the public.


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