What does it take to reopen a school district in a pandemic?

    In Fort Mill, there is $85,000 for personal protective equipment. Plexiglass have been installed for the front entrance areas at each school. Additional day porters at each elementary school will help with cleaning. And cleaning contracts now includes misting machines to spray classrooms daily and buses twice daily. (Story continues below.)

YouTube video
Video of shield designs that will be used for some Fort Mill desks.

   A new self-screening app requires employees to answer survey questions each morning about any possible COVID symptoms or exposure.

   “At the end, after you answer the questions, it approves you to come to work, or it denies you,” said Leanne Lordo, Assistant Superintendent of Finance and Operations.

   A “COVID Police Person” receives reports each morning and lets supervisors know if anyone is not allowed to come to work.

   For lower-income families choosing eLearning, 500 Hot Spots were purchased to provide them Internet access. The district has also hired a Coordinator of Technology Integration and eLearning.

    In all schools, water fountains are being shut off, replaced in some locations with safer water-bottle filling stations. Restroom hand dryers will be replaced with paper towel dispensers, which is costing $103,000 to start.

    Related Arts teachers are getting more carts to roll their supplies around to each classroom.

    In the classes, desk shields were going for over $100 each, but the school district contracted with a North Carolina company to cut the material themselves. The district got the price down to $19 per desk. With 8,000 desks, that is $152,000.

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   “They are basically buying the material and cutting them for us, and attaching it with the little brackets,” Lordo told school trustees.

   Keeping the classrooms clean will require lots of disinfecting wipes. So the district has ordered half of a truckload for $147,000. With lots of technology, teachers are being given a special solution and cleaning cloths.

   To cut down on cheating, the district is paying for Plagiarism Check software. “We think that would be very valuable for our teachers going forward this year with Virtual Academy,” Lordo said.

   Teachers and regular substitute teachers will benefit from 2,050 face shields. Plus, each teacher gets two nice-looking face coverings with the school district logo.

   On the buses, the district has ordered stickers to let students know where they can sit and where they can’t. Plus, an extra supply of masks will help when students show up without them.

   The district has also ordered extra student masks for those who need them. And to help students with keeping up with their masks, the district has ordered 15,000 lanyards, so students can attack their face coverings to them. Those were 38 cents apiece.

   Other signage will cost the district at least $65,000 to help remind staff and students about social distancing at each school.

     And the list keeps growing. Lordo said the district wants to make sure they have improved the environment for all staff and students.

   In Fort Mill, the school district received $633,000 in government funding, and school trustees approved an additional $1 million last week to add to the new COVID-19 Response Fund.


Greg "Ricky Bobby" Rickabaugh has lived in the Fort Mill and York County community since 2006. He has covered the area while a reporter for The Charlotte Observer and a freelance writer for The Fort Mill...