Budget pressures and potential closures top list of concerns for schools


The economic impact of COVID-19 has added significant pressures to the running of a school this year, with keeping students in the classroom a top priority.

Our survey of Business Managers and Bursars at schools across the country found that 68% were concerned about COVID-19 outbreaks leading to school closures, while over half were concerned about increased cost pressures and the need to provide fee assistance to families.

Schools have had to transition to new ways of operating to adapt to the new normal of living with the virus, with half of schools citing future-proofing activities as having a significant impact to their school budget.

Keeping students in the classroom a top priority

The survey was conducted at the end of last year, to see how schools were preparing for the 2022 school year. Over two thirds of schools surveyed were concerned that COVID-19 outbreaks could lead to school closures. Safety of students and staff were also a key concern among schools.

More than half were expecting increased costs and pressures on their budget and an increased need to provide rebates and discounts to affected families.


Increased pressure on school budgets

Schools anticipate an increase in budgetary spend as they implement strategies to help mitigate the risks of a COVID-19 outbreak, with future-proofing activities topping the list of main factors impacting school budgets. Schools are also predicting families to continue to be affected by the economic impact of the pandemic and rising cost of living, with 43% expecting reduced fee collection after providing concessions to families.


We have been able to assist our partner schools reduce the impact to their budget during the period. Our platform ensures schools receive upfront payments from Edstart to provide stable and predictable cash flow, while families have access to increased flexibility and choice so that school fee payments align with their household budget.

What schools are doing to prepare

The vast majority of schools included an increase of cleaning resources and social distancing to their planning, while close to half have extended their budgets to investing in alterations to classrooms to improve airflow and safety for their students.


St Andrew’s Cathedral School in Sydney have consulted an engineer to improve airflow in their classrooms. “We're trying to maximise cross ventilation, we're opening windows wherever that's possible and we're upgrading our air conditioning,” St Andrew’s Cathedral School principal John Collier said. “We're upgrading our filters, in some areas we're installing HEPA filters, and we're bringing in as a pilot, carbon dioxide monitors”.

40% of schools have also committed to additional wellbeing programs. Padua College in Melbourne has introduced a 10 week mental health literacy program for students. Researchers say that the mental health of young people has suffered throughout the pandemic, and needs to be made a priority.

COVID-19 safety measures keep students in the classroom

While future-proofing activities have increased pressure on schools budgets, the cost of investing in these measures has been worthwhile to ensure schools remain open, and disruptions to student learning are minimised.

Richard Malpass, principal of Sydney Grammar School, said case numbers were lower than expected, but the school had bought more rapid antigen test kits and several thousand more masks, which they are encouraging students to wear.

A study conducted by the National Centre for Immunisation Research showed that in Term 4 2021, 2 to 4% of people exposed to a positive case in school settings contracted COVID-19, compared to around 70% in residential settings. Schools across the country are continuing to do an amazing job to ensure that their students do not miss out on time in the classroom and playground.

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