2020 | Schools

MCPS has spent more than $7 million on school reopening supplies

District has purchased 2.6 million masks, 18 million pairs of gloves

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Montgomery County Public Schools has spent more than $7 million on supplies related to its preparations to reopen buildings, according to records obtained by Bethesda Beat.

The district — which currently plans to begin bringing some children back for in-person classes Jan. 12 — has a stockpile of more than 2.6 million face coverings and 18 million pairs of gloves, according to purchase records Bethesda Beat received through a Maryland Public Information Act request.

The district has purchased thousands of face shields, touchless hand sanitizer dispensers, gowns and air purifiers.

MCPS did not disclose the revenue sources used to purchase the equipment.

In its response to Bethesda Beat’s records request, MCPS officials wrote that they would charge $95 for the time it would take to compile and prepare the data about how it has paid for the supplies. Bethesda Beat declined to pay the fee. In the original request, Bethesda Beat asked that fees be waived, which is allowed under state law, when records are “in the public interest.”

While records show MCPS has spent about $7.3 million on the supplies, it’s likely that the district has spent more money to prepare for reopening. The total does not include signage printed or purchased to remind students and staff members to social distance, or indicate one-way hallways, for example.

It also doesn’t account for Superintendent Jack Smith’s projection that the district will need to eventually hire more teachers to support a hybrid model of teaching — a mix of in-person and virtual classes.

MCPS spokeswoman Gboyinde Onijala said the district will continue to purchase supplies as the pandemic continues.

“Our procurement of these essential supplies is ongoing, and while we are pleased we have been able to stock up (personal protective equipment) and supplies as needed for our system, we know we have to get more,” Onijala said.

As of Tuesday, about 40% of MCPS’ 161,583 students planned to return to schools part-time when buildings reopen. The rest — nearly 100,000 students — will remain in a fully virtual model for the second semester.

The school board is scheduled to finalize its reopening plan on Tuesday, after delaying the action during a meeting on Dec. 3.

Board members asked district leaders to “take a second look” at the metrics to guide when students can return to classrooms.

MCPS has received strong pushback from community members who feel the metrics are too strict, but the district has repeated that it is following state and federal guidelines.

The phased return to MCPS buildings, as outlined in the current draft plan, will be based upon two key health metrics: the county’s average daily increase in cases over 14 days, and the two-week average of cases per 100,000 people.

The MCPS guidelines also require the county’s test positivity rate to remain below 5%.

The first groups of students to return to buildings would be welcomed back at a rate of up to 15 per 100,000 people. Most students would not return until the rate falls to five. As of Wednesday, the rate was 40.1

Tuesday’s school board meeting is scheduled to begin at noon and will be held virtually.

A breakdown of some of the supplies MCPS has purchased in response to COVID-19, with approximately how many of each:

Masks — $1,460,800

Reusable masks: 415,000
Clear masks: 12,840
Disposable masks: 2.2 million
KN95 masks: 4,100

Face shields -— $55,322

Non-medical shields: 1,000
Adult shields: 20,100
Youth shields: 7,500
Child shields: 7,500

Sanitizer and dispensers — $1,115,721

Black one-gallon sanitizer stands: 500
16-ounce sanitizer and base: 2,400
One-gallon sanitizer and pump: 100
8-ounce sanitizer and base: 6,000
4-gallon sanitizer: 750
Hand sanitizer: 156,000
Refillable dispensers: 1,000
Touchless dispensers: 1,510
4-gallon sanitizer with pump: 250

Cleaning wipes — $542,403

75-count canisters: 1,000
80-count canisters: 10,000
300-wipe canisters: 10,000
Lysol wipes: 10,000

Disposable gloves — $1,353,725

MCPS has obtained various sizes of disposable gloves made of different materials. In total, MCPS has purchased about 18 million pairs of disposable gloves.

Gowns — $14,895

Disposable isolation gowns: 2,500
Gowns: 10,500
Surgical gowns: 20,000

Cleaning sprayers — $131,100

Hand sprayers: 230

Portable air filters and cleaners — $2,334,191.36

Air filters: 1,938

HVAC filters — $326,730.78

Air filters: 44,612