Farewell Bell. How Much Money Has Been Spent to Protect Kyiv Metropolitan Schools from COVID-19?

How much has the capital spent to combat the spreading of COVID-19 at schools? Are the government and metropolitan authorities ready to fight against COVID-19 in the new academic year? Or will they make a bid for distance learning?

On last September 1 it was for the first time when children had to enter their classrooms in conditions of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

For this reason, schools needed personal protective equipment such as masks, as well as disinfectors, floor and classroom detergents.

These are schools which could have become a focal area where coronavirus was spread among children and faculty, in particular among elderly faculty and staff. 

The academic year which has numerously been interrupted due to the quarantine restrictions is about to be over. However, time flies and the next September 1 is just around the corner.  

How much was spent to combat Covid-19 at Kyiv schools last year 

In September, the Ministry of Education addressed the Cabinet of Ministers with a request to reallocate 3 billion hryvnas from the Covid-19 Response Fund to provide schoolchildren with individual protection gear and classrooms with disinfectors. 

Other 3 billion hryvnas were to be added to maintain schools in terms of co-financing from other budget programs. 

The Ministry of Education estimated what was needed to ensure safe conditions at schools during October-December of 2020. It was about 4 million school students and 519,000 faculty members, each of whom needed three masks a day. With the price of one mask being 5.5 hryvnas, the total of 4.9 billion hryvnas had to be spent.

Additional 331 million hryvnas were needed to buy disinfectors for more than 192,000 classrooms. Moreover, the Ministry of Education requested 720 million for disinfection of floors and desks in classrooms. 

The first week of September of 2020 over, attention of civil society as well as the government to schools was down. The requested funds were not allotted in full, though the Cabinet of Ministers continued spending funds from the Covid-19 Response Fund to provide fringe benefits for policemen or repair roads. 

Later, in October of 2020, the Cabinet of Ministers reallocated outstanding funds of the Ministry of Education and allotted extra 539.5 million hryvnas as a subvention for the New Ukrainian School to buy protection gear for schools. However, it was not enough.

Then the Ministry of Education shifted the problem to the local authorities, saying that provision of schools was their responsibility. 

Taken the fact that the government did not allocate the needed funds to schools, and then shifted the responsibility to the local authorities, the expert organization StateWatch decided to figure out how the authorities organized protection of school classroom from Covid-19 and, what is of primary importance, how much budget funds were spent for the purpose in question, using the example of Kyiv as the largest city in Ukraine. 

It is important to know in view of the regular quarantines at schools which are likely to continue in the fall. The city of Kyiv received 38.62 million hryvnas out of 539.5 million hryvnas added as a subvention for the New Ukrainian School. In other words, the capital city received 7% of the total amount. 

Later, the Kyiv City State Administration allotted these funds to its subdivisions and district state administrations:

  • 77.4 thousand hryvnas were allotted to the Department of Education and Science of the Kyiv City State Administration

District state administrations in the city of Kyiv were allotted he following amounts:

  • Darnytskyi District State Administration – 6 million hryvnas
  • Desnianskyi District State Administration – 4.8 million hryvnas
  • Dniprovskyi District State Administration – 4.8 million hryvnas
  • Sviatoshynskyi District State Administration – 4.6 million hryvnas
  • Obolonskyi District State Administration – 4 million hryvnas
  • Solomianskyi District State Administration – 3.7 million hryvnas
  • Holosiyivskyi District State Administration – 3 million hryvnas
  • Shevchenkyvskyi District State Administration – 3 million hryvnas
  • Podilskyi District State Administration – 2.7 million hryvnas
  • Pecherskyi District State Administration – 1.9 million hryvnas

The Kyiv City State Administration added that 38.58 million hryvnas out of the allocated funds or, in other words, almost the total amount, had been spent. 

Besides, in 2020 municipal funds were used to maintain metropolitan schools. As of the end of the year, 24.55 million hryvnas out of 25.26 million hryvnas had been used. Therefore, 63.13 million hryvnas were used to buy up protection gear and equipment for Kyiv schools in 2020. 

How much is spent to combat COVID-19 at Kyiv schools this year

In response to our enquiry about the amount spent to maintain schools in 2021, the Kyiv City State Administration said that no funds had been allocated from the budget of Kyiv for the given purpose. 

State budget funds in the total amount of 1.55 million hryvnas were eventually allotted to maintain Kyiv schools, though with the view to organizing the main and additional sessions of the External Independent Assessment rather than buying protection gear and disinfectors for daily use during the academic process.

Also, 70.63 million hryvnas were spent to buy laptops for faculty of communal schools and their branches to organize distanced learning. 

In turn, 88.2 million hryvnas have been allocated in the budget of Kyiv to provide schools with protection gear in 2021. The given amount included budgets of local district administrations to maintain schools. 

How much have district state administrations allocated to provide schools with protection gear in 2021

Obolonskyi District State Administration 11.6 million hryvnas 
Sviatoshynskyi District State Administration 8.4 million hryvnas 
Dniprovskyi District State Administration5.6 million hryvnas
Solomianskyi District State Administration 4 million hryvnas
Desnianskyi District State Administration3.4 million hryvnas
Darnytskyi District State Administration 3.1 million hryvnas
Shevchenkyvskyi District State Administration 2.2 million hryvnas
Podilskyi District State Administration2.2 million hryvnas
Holosiyivskyi District State Administration  2.1 million hryvnas
Pecherskyi District State Administration  1 million hryvnas
Total43.6 million hryvnas 

How much is needed?

Based on the information provided by the Ministry of Education in September of 2020, one can estimate the need of funds to ensure safety of children and educators in Kyiv. We have reduced the price for a mask from 5.5 hryvnas to 1 hryvnia, being the current market price. 

According to the Kyiv City State Administration, 324,776 students are currently studying and 25,941 faculty and staff are working at 566 schools in Kyiv.

As estimated by the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, each student and educator needs 3 masks a day. If children study on average 22 days a month, these are 23.1 million hryvnas a month which are needed to provide students and educators of Kyiv with masks. Accordingly, 88.2 million hryvnas allocated in the budget of Kyiv would conventionally be enough for 4 months. 

By these estimates, one can assume that 26.3 million hryvnas are needed a month to buy up only masks and sanitizers for Kyiv schools.

Following this, the amount of 88.2 million hryvnas allocated in the budget of Kyiv seems to be far from enough to provide schools with protection gear and disinfectors. Moreover, the question whether schools are ready to admit students in the epoch of COVID-19 on next September 1 will rise already in August. 

What can be done?

The vaccination campaign is currently underway in Ukraine. The pace of vaccination, however, is extremely slow. According to the National Plan of Vaccination which was approved in December of 2020, education workers are planned to be vaccinated after the new academic year begins – in September and October of 2021.

In April, the Council of National Security and Defence approved a new plan of vaccination. Vaccination of educational workers involved in the External Independent Assessment with CoronaVac started on April 14.

According to the renewed information and plans of the Ministry of Education and Science of Ukraine, vaccination of all other educators will be launched upon arrival of a new batch of Comirnaty from Pfizer at the end of May. 

According to the lists of vaccinations, 378,000 dozes have been reserved for 189,000 faculty and staff of education institutions who are willing to be vaccinated. The Ministry of Education and Science expects the number of educators willing to be vaccinated to increase. For this reason, the government officials intend to use the next batch of Pfizer also to vaccinate educators. 

Provided the aforementioned plan is implemented and vaccines are regularly supplied, it will be possible to vaccinate educators in the near months and, therefore, to prepare for the new academic year. 

Such vaccination together with minimum anti-pandemic measures will prevent COVID-19 from spreading at schools and enable students to get back at their school desks. 

However, taken the current situation with the pace of vaccination, it will be difficult enough to put this plan into effect.

Considering the aforementioned, Kyiv authorities have to increase financing to buy up protection gear, hand sanitizers and disinfectors. It is also significant to foresee the possibility to provide free PCR tests for teachers with the first signs of the disease. 

The Kyiv City State Administration may issue a tender for centralized buying of such goods instead of the goods procured by education departments of the district state administrations. In such a case, with larger procurements, it will be possible to buy goods at lower prices.

Also, one of the ways to reduce the spreading of the disease may be blended learning, which has already been practiced. It will enable the authorities to minimize the number of students in classes and, therefore, decrease space for the disease to spread. 

This analytical article has been drafted by StateWatch with support of the International Renaissance Fund within the project Civil Control Over Budget Expenditures to Combat COVID-19. The material reflects the position of its authors and does not necessarily coincide with the positon of the International Renaissance Fund.