Many Arizona parents can now keep their tax dollars if their local public school closes due to COVID.
That’s according to a new program called the “Open For Learning Recovery Benefit” announced Tuesday by Republican Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, which will provide certain families up to $7,000 in benefits to help pay for childcare or enroll them in private school if their child’s public school shuts down. While not perfect, the program is based on parental income and can also help cover the cost of transportation to school, or online tutoring.
“If a school closes for even one day, students and families who meet the income requirements can utilize the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit Program — allowing students to access instruction that best meets their needs,” the Arizona governor’s website reads.
“In Arizona, we’re going to ensure continued access to in-person learning,” Ducey added in a statement. “Everyone agrees that schools should stay open and kids need to be in the classroom. With this announcement, we are making sure parents and families have options if a school closes its doors. Parents are best suited to make decisions about their child’s education. In-person learning is vital for the development, well-being and educational needs of K-12 students. We will continue to work with families, public health experts and school leaders to ensure our kids can stay in the classroom and parents have a choice — always.”
The press release cited multiple studies and bipartisan agreement that “students need access to the classroom.”
Some Arizona schools have already announced they'll be returning temporarily to virtual learning following the Christmas holiday due to a local - and national - surge in coronavirus cases. But others, including the Scottsdale Unified School District, have scaled back their mask mandates, now "recommending" face coverings rather than requiring them.
In the face of every-changing restrictions and with the threat of virtual schooling looming at all times, Ducey's program a good start – now eliminate the income requirement, and ensure that all students, regardless of their parents’ economic status, receive the education they deserve and that no taxpaying parent is robbed of their hard-earned dollars for a "public service" that’s not being rendered.