Newhouse backs bill to fund in-person learning for students

WASHINGTON, D.C. – On January 19, Rep. Dan Newhouse (R-WA) cosponsored H.R. 6380, the Open Schools Act, legislation that would provide up to $10,000 in a federal education grant to students if their local public school is closed to in-person learning for COVID-related reasons.


We know that depriving our children of an in-person education has ramifications far beyond what they learn from their books,” said Rep. Newhouse. “School closures are proven to put our children’s mental health, emotional development, and physical well-being at risk. This legislation puts the needs of our children first by helping our students and providing parents with increased options for their children’s education.”


Last week, the Associated Press reported a significant drop in Washington state students’ exam scores. Earlier this month, a Lake Washington School District spokesperson informed parents that students would be forced to eat outdoors if temperatures are not below 38 degrees. Students across the country are suffering from school closures and lack of in-person learning. Teachers’ unions across the country have advocated for school closures during the pandemic, even after schools have received hundreds of billions of dollars in federal COVID aid to assist schools during the pandemic and open schools for in-person learning.


The Open Schools Act gives parents the means to provide their children an in-person education if their local public school is closed or shut down to in-person learning due to COVID. A closed or shut down school means any school that is partially or temporarily closed, is partially in-person, fully shut down or is operating in any manner in which less than 100 percent of the school’s students are learning in-person on a given day due to COVID-19.


The grant can be used for tuition for in-person schooling, transportation, school meals, or any other education-related expenses. Eligible tuition includes tuition to a private or parochial school, a neighboring public school (for students who live outside of the school district’s boundaries), a public charter school, home-schooling, tutoring, or other forms of in-person learning.


The grant would be funded by clawing back unspent funds from the nearly $130 billion that was appropriated for K-12 schools through the so-called American Rescue Plan (ARP), which was signed into law last year, in part, to allegedly open schools for in-person learning, according to the White House. Since the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, roughly $200 billion in COVID relief funding has been appropriated to K-12 schools.

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