Sure, American Schools Can Reopen—for 'Certain Kids'

The divide between public and private schools looks even wider now
By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff
Posted Jul 16, 2020 6:10 PM CDT
How the Virus 'Exposed a Great Deal of Inequity' in Schooling
Stock image.   (Getty Images)

Turns out schools can reopen in America after all—if they're private. While most public schools are opening part-time or not at all amid the coronavirus pandemic, private schools are finding they have the budgets, facilities, and small class sizes to reopen, the New York Times reports. That means 90% of America's students are likely to keep struggling while the rest continue with high-end educations. "The virus is this huge stress test on our education system" and "has exposed a great deal of inequity," says Robert Pianta, dean of the school of education at the University of Virginia. "Certain kids in certain systems, depending on the resources, are going to get much closer to what looks like a typical high-quality education than others."

Public schools already had budgetary woes, and a $13.5 billion coronavirus relief package in March apparently wasn't enough. One report estimates that each district will need an extra $1.8 million to pay for measures like disposable masks and custodial staff to disinfect everything. By contrast, a single Hawaiian private school has spent $3 million on pandemic preparation and boosted its financial aid by half, to $12 million, to help some families enroll their children. "We've been very fortunate," says the school's president. So what to do? The Washington Post reports that President Trump and Senate Republicans—under great pressure to reopen classrooms—are ready to spend between $50 billion and $100 billion on elementary and secondary schools. (Education Secretary Betsy DeVos has issued a strong statement on reopening.)

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