Families with K-12 children have spent the summer waiting to find out whether their schools will reopen for the fall semester or offer virtual learning at least in the early weeks. School districts are announcing plans with the caveat that ‘things could change’ depending on the COVID-19 environment.
Adding to this uncertainty is the burgeoning consensus that virtual learning is no substitute for in-person school. Surveys of parents regarding whether their children learned anything during the spring semester elicit responses like: “kind of,” “maybe,” and “ask again later.” Parents worry about the effect on their kids’ academic and social development as schools implement on-again, off-again distance learning.
Senate Republicans signal they’ll send states $70 billion more in coronavirus aid for K-12 schools, including those that are planning not to reopen. So, dual-income households and single parents will, again, have to juggle working with keeping their kids focused on schoolwork.
Taxpaying parents can be forgiven for being anxious — and irritated.
Wall Street Journal columnist Kim Strassel points out that “One slim silver lining in the virus mess has been the spotlight it has put on the nation’s failing schools, and the importance of choice, charters, vouchers, and private and home education.”
More parents are eyeing these options. Some families are banding together so their children can be taught in pods. All of this places extra pressure on family finances.
The state of South Carolina is providing a bit of a lifeline for low-and-middle-income families. Governors have discretion over some of the federal coronavirus relief money provided under the CARES Act. South Carolina Governor Henry McMaster announced he’ll use a portion of those dollars to create a private school scholarship program that will provide up to $6500 to students from families with incomes at or below 300 percent of the federal poverty line.
Oklahoma’s governor is doing the same, giving parents choices by allowing the money to follow the student.