The public school system in Durham, NC, will reopen six schools – but not really.
The half dozen schools in the Durham Public Schools (DPS) system will operate six “learning centers,” and families who send their children there will pay $140 a week, plus a $35 registration fee.
“Opening our school year remotely is the right decision to protect our students and staff from COVID-19,” said DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga, WRAL reported. “However, there are many families in Durham who need additional support during the school day. It will take a community effort to support each of these children, but DPS is doing its part.”
The DPS Learning Centers will provide a safe space to complete online learning, meals and snacks, and social-emotional activities. Students will be assigned to small pods with daily wellness screenings, distribution and required use of facemasks, and planned circulation and seating of six feet social distancing.
DPS employees, by the way, will only pay $105 a week.
The plan was ripped on social media.
Corey DeAngelis, director of school choice at the Reason Foundation, said the fees are unconstitutional.
“BREAKING: Durham is reopening public elementary schools as ‘learning centers’ They are charging families up to $140 per child per week. That’s on top of what families already pay through property taxes. That’s unconstitutional,” he wrote on Twitter.
DeAngelis noted that the North Carolina constitution says, “The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”
North Carolina constitution:
"The General Assembly shall provide by taxation and otherwise for a general and uniform system of free public schools, which shall be maintained at least nine months in every year, and wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”
— Corey A. DeAngelis (@DeAngelisCorey) August 15, 2020
Others shredded the plan.
“So they’re opening public schools as private schools because public schools are too unsafe,” wrote one person on Twitter.
So they're opening public schools as private schools because public schools are too unsafe.
— NH (@TwoQuoque) August 15, 2020
Others noted that the same type of program is happening elsewhere across the U.S.
“School districts in WA state are offering ‘childcare’ in the empty schools this fall at $50 a day. What a joke. How do we fight back?” wrote another person on Twitter.
“Rockford Michigan is charging $200/kid/week,” wrote a Twitter user.
Rockford Michigan is charging $200/kid/week
— NJV (@njv_njv) August 15, 2020
“Corey – in AZ, they also opened ‘on site learning centers’ in addition to the childcare programs. They notified us Wednesday. Somehow it’s safe for all these kids in classrooms but not normal school,” wrote another.
“Happening in Mesa, Gilbert, and Cave Creek in AZ,” DeAngelis wrote in response.
Corey – in AZ, they also opened “on site learning centers” in addition to the childcare programs. They notified us Wednesday.
Somehow it’s safe for all these kids in classrooms but not normal school? pic.twitter.com/izyWPEG4KH
— Tired of Shutdowns (@tired_fighting) August 15, 2020
Another person on Twitter noted that Manteca, CA, east of San Francisco, is offering a similar program.
The Manteca Bulletin reported that three elementary school sites will offer the program from 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday for ages 5 to 12.
The program is aimed at helping Manteca households with either both parents or a single parent working who have to work when school is in session for remote learning and have been unable to find child care or supervision for their younger children.
“The cost is $640 a month or $175 weekly.”