With the current school year already derailed by COVID-19, the best-case scenario for schools is that the 2020–2021 school year proceeds as normal. But there will still be health risks for students as they head back to school and fill classrooms in the fall. Students who live with relatives with health complications or students with their own health conditions will have heightened concerns about catching or spreading the coronavirus when they go back to school. Why not make a Safe Students Scholarship available to these families?
A Safe Students Scholarship could work like a traditional education savings account, where students apply to scholarship-granting organizations for a scholarship and then access their funds through an approved bank account. Families could then purchase things such as tuition for a different school with smaller class sizes or an online education option.
Students and schools could see other benefits if a Safe Student Scholarship law is enacted. A scholarship could provide students with the state portion of their per-pupil funding, and districts would no longer have to pay their share of a student’s funding if the student leaves the district. Cost savings will be essential as school budgets are expected to fall in the aftermath of the coronavirus pandemic. Additionally, if students use the scholarship to take online courses, there would be smaller class sizes in traditional public schools, which would make it safer for students who stay in their assigned school.
The financial hit from the coronavirus will impact family budgets. Many families will no longer be able to afford private school, leaving private schools struggling with finances and enrollment. A Safe Students Scholarship could help private schools weather enrollment declines.
A Safe Students Scholarship could bring important financial and safety benefits to Missouri schools and students. Their availability could help eliminate the need for families to choose between education and health.