Arizona to Provide Relief for Parents If Their Children’s School Closes ‘Even One Day’

By Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.
January 4, 2022 Updated: January 4, 2022

Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey on Tuesday announced a new benefits program to help fund eligible families that may not otherwise be able to afford to move their children to schools that stay open for in-person instructions.

According to the governor’s office, the new Open for Learning Recovery Benefit program will provide up to $7,000 for qualified students in case the schools they go to “close for even one day.” The aid money can be used to cover expenses relating to child care, school-coordinated transportation, online tutoring, and school tuition.

“In Arizona, we’re going to ensure continued access to in-person learning,” Ducey said in a press release. “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.”

The initiative comes as some Arizona school districts have delayed students coming back to school, citing the recent surge in CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus infections driven by the Omicron variant. Arizona’s teachers’ union is also telling parents to get ready for a potential return to remote learning.

“Parents should be preparing for a temporary shift to remote learning. It will be due to not enough staff being able to report for work,” Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas wrote on Twitter on Monday, the first day of classes. He also praised the Kyrene School District, which reversed a previous plan and said they will not drop the mask mandate after winter break.

In August 2020, Ducey launched two programs aimed at supporting parents who don’t want their children to wear masks at school, as well as school districts that don’t impose mask mandates or other public health restrictions upon students.

One of the programs is a $10 million grant similar to the state’s private school voucher program. It offers eligible parents $7,000 for each student if their public school has a mask mandate, requires isolation or quarantine due to CCP virus exposure, or provides “preferential treatment” to vaccinated students.

The other program was created using $163 million Arizona received as federal pandemic relief. District schools and public charters that were open for in-person learning and stayed throughout the 2020-2021 school year could tap into the money, and could get up to $1,800 in additional funding per student. Schools that had mask mandates or closed because of COVID-19 outbreaks were not eligible for the grant.

“Parents are in the driver’s seat, and it’s their right to make decisions that best fit the needs of their children,” the governor said last year when he announced the programs. “Safety recommendations are welcomed and encouraged—mandates that place more stress on students and families aren’t.”

Bill Pan
Reporter
Bill Pan is a reporter for The Epoch Times.