The cost of getting Angus children safely back into the classroom next month could top £4 million.
Council calculations around the plan for a return to full-time schooling on August 17 include a near £900,000 three-month transport bill and a £2.3m proposal to give 40 extra teachers a full-year contract rather than drafting them in as temporary coronavirus crisis cover.
As parents remain in limbo over whether the return will be full or part-time, the area’s education convener has also said plans are being drawn up with “precious little insight” into what extra funding might be coming the council’s way.
And officials have warned the cost Covid-19 related measures is almost certain to have an impact on the money available for future maintenance of the county’s school buildings.
The sums will be set out at a special remote meeting of the full council on Thursday – including the plan to extend a previously approved teacher recruitment campaign.
In June, councillors agreed to recruit 40 temporary teachers and 21 school support staff from August to December.
Thirty-two newly qualified teachers have accepted temporary contracts and councillors are to be asked to extend them for the entire school year, taking the cost from £926k to £2.3m.
The plans also include a £200k spend on four additional social workers for the double cluster areas of Forfar/Kirriemuir; Carnoustie/Monifieth; Brechin/Montrose and Arbroath to support vulnerable children.
Evidence in other countries has shown an upturn in referrals to children’s social work services as a result of experiences during the pandemic and Angus officials say they believe a dedicated frontline response is appropriate.
An estimated £870k will be required for safe school transport provision in the first term alone, but a warning has been given that if one-metre social distancing is introduced there may not be enough buses available for every child entitled to free travel.
Parents could be offered a mileage allowance and if extra school bus trips have to be made it could result in pupils arriving at different times.
Early indications of the cost of hand sanitisers, PPE and signage are set around £70,000.
The council has been given a half-million pound grant to buy digital equipment, including laptops, and councillors will also be told that £227,000 of Scottish Government cash has been added to deliver free summer holiday school meals to entitled families.
Children and Learning convener, Arbroath Conservative councillor Derek Wann said: “This unprecedented and complicated planning is being undertaken with no definitive instructions on re-opening from Scottish Government to date and precious little insight into what additional funds may be available to us.
“It is an unenviable task and I know that our education team are doing their utmost to deliver the best and safest possible service to our communities, our children and young people in what are extremely challenging circumstances.”
“Despite the numerous imponderables, this report covers a great deal of detail and what we can do to ensure pupils can return to school safely after an absence of almost five months.”
Dundee City Council is yet to reveal the estimated costs associated with a planned re-opening of its schools on a phased basis from August 12, with full-time lessons resuming from August 17.
It said arrangement over issues such as transport would be confirmed in due course.
Children and families service convener, Strathmartine SNP Councillor Stewart Hunter said: “We will make sure families get the latest information about this when we are able to release it.”