Impact of pandemic on learning, finances

Despite the pandemic, the start of the 2020-2021 school year is going extremely well, Superintendent Tracey Miller told the Board of Education during the Sept. 21 meeting.

A few students and teachers were required to quarantine following COVID-19 tests, but so far, no tests have come back positive.

As a district, New Richmond continues to focus on its mission of providing students with a comprehensive educational experience in a safe and nurturing environment for both our students who are participating in both in-person and online learning. 

The staff is to be commended for their efforts, Mr. Miller said. In-person classroom teachers have expanded daily routines to incorporate new health and safety guidelines. For example, despite sweltering heat this month, teachers can still be found taking classes outside. Lions Online teachers have managed to essentially open the equivalent of a new 400-pupil school in just a few weeks.

“Everyone is doing a great job trying to provide some normalcy for as long as we can,” he said.

As the learning continues both online and in-person, the ongoing pandemic is an additional drain on district resources, Interim Treasurer James Corbeil said. New Richmond has placed a priority on providing students, teachers, and staff with the necessary tools for providing learning while maintaining healthy environments.

Personal protective equipment, additional chromebooks/personal tablets for online/remote learning, additional cleaning supplies, and other measures that have been taken to help maintain both in-person, online, and remote learning, all come with costs, he said. 

As of September, New Richmond has received about $550,000 in grant and CARES Act relief funds. These funds, however, will not make up for:

  • Additional pandemic-related operational costs

  • Revenue losses from suppressed interest rates

  • Revenue losses from businesses impacted by the pandemic

  • Reductions in state funding 

The pandemic related revenue losses and expenses, which continue to increase, will exceed $1.5 million for New Richmond Schools, Mr. Corbeil estimated.

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