This is Dennis from Burbio. Below is our weekly update. Feel free to share.
Over ninety percent of the Top 500 school districts are now mask-optional. This week we look at K-12 public school enrollments for 2021/22 versus last year across states where reporting is available. We also take a look at capital expenditures occurring at school districts outside of those in the HVAC-related category. More below.
As of March 19th, over 90% (460) of the Top 500 districts are mask optional. In last week's blog post we noted as of March 12th the count was 340, indicating 24% of the Top 500 districts converted to mask-optional in the last week alone. The figures in the chart pull from our database in real time, and are set to the effective date of the district's change, meaning a district that has announced a plan to switch to mask-optional won't appear as such until that date occurs:
Here are some examples of districts that are still requiring masks, and their outlook going forward:
Madison Metropolitan School District, WI will continue requiring masks through Spring Break (April 1st), saying "we will continue with masking indoors through spring break with a commitment to provide an updated decision on indoor masking after spring break and no later than April 15, 2022."
Oakland Unified School District, CA announced it "will keep its current indoor mask mandate for all students, staff, contractors, volunteers and visitors in place at least through April 15. We are concerned about a potential post-Spring Break surge . . . ."
Detroit Public Schools, MI is maintaining a school mask mandate, citing vaccination rates and the need to get 100% of students to agree to testing. This Chalkbeat story reports the district will consider lifting the mandate after Spring Break ends (April 3rd).
Boston Public Schools, MA lifted capacity restrictions on various events but is keeping the mask mandate in place. "At a meeting today, BPHC finalized their recommendation that BPS should maintain the current masking policy until the citywide weekly average of COVID-19 daily cases is at or under 10 cases per 100,000 residents. Once we reach that threshold, we will consult with BPHC on the next steps and timeline, and communicate updates to our families and staff."
Clayton County Public Schools, GA, announces at the 7:30 mark of this video the district will require masks for the balance of the school year.
Prince Georges County Public Schools, MD announced they "anticipate easing our mask mandate by the end of the school year. According to Maryland State Department of Education’s previous guidance, I will remove the mask mandate once the county population reaches 80 percent full vaccination based on the Maryland Department of Health metrics."
One element of Burbio's business intelligence service involves tracking public school enrollment information as it is disclosed at the local and state level for immediate application by partners. We have begun aggregating K-12 public school enrollment figures for the 2021/22 school year and comparing it to 2020/21. While we are aggregating individual district reporting in all 50 states, this week we wanted to highlight state-level changes in places where reporting is complete. In the map below, green indicates enrollment increased this academic year, red means it has declined. Unlabeled gray states are places we don't have aggregate information, and light gray in labeled states means enrollment was flat. A rollover-version of the map can be found at the bottom of our ESSER III page.
Over the course of the Spring we will be sharing more insights about district and grade level trends we are seeing in our reporting.
Burbio has currently compiled detailed spending plans from over 3,500 school districts that have been allocated over $70 billion of ESSER III funding. HVAC is among the most frequent expenditures and makes up the highest category of all spending. That said, there are other facility-related capital expenditures occurring in districts across the US and this week we wanted to highlight some examples. The figure in parenthesis is the total ESSER III allocation for the district:
Lemoor Union Elementary CA ($6.5MM) will be spending $1MM on Outdoor Shade Structures to "provide outdoor spaces on each campus to spread students out in a safe manner and reduce or prevent the spread of COVID-19. In addition to grade level classrooms, PE, music, and afterschool programs will utilize these spaces to ensure safe distancing as well."
Bloomfield Public Schools, CT ($3.5MM) will spending on two-way radios for school security and district leadership, outdoor seating for meal times for Special Education, and lunch tables for the high school to increase distancing during rush periods.
Laredo, TX ($123MM) is spending $11.6MM on fire and security alarm systems, $225,000 for water fountain retrofits for bottle fillers, $280,000 for electronic marquees, $43,000 for digital food temperature monitoring, $756,000 on security cameras, $2.4MM on school buses, and $160,000 for 8 sets of washers and dryers.
Kanawha County, WV ($82MM) is spending over $5MM on outdoor classroom materials, outdoor classroom improvements, window replacements for better ventilation, and improvements to bathrooms and flooring.
MSAD 53, Pittsfield, ME ($2.4MM) is spending on a family bathroom, outdoor bleachers, and improved cooling systems at the middle school, plus playground and bathroom upgrades.
Danville Public Schools, VA ($29.7MM) is spending $8.9MM to renovate an existing school building to reduce overcrowding and free up space for in-person learning across the district.