Ducey offers up to $7,000 to some Arizona families if schools close due to COVID-19

If schools close for a single day due to COVID, some families would be eligible for up to $7,000 in child care, online tutoring and other expenses.

Updated: January 4, 2022 - 6:57pm

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Parents in Arizona faced with the sudden prospect of their children’s schools returning to remote learning will have resources that Gov. Doug Ducey hopes will keep them working.

In response to teachers unions calling for a return to online learning amid a new COVID-19 surge, Ducey has created the Open for Learning Recovery Benefit program. Should schools close for even a single day due go COVID, families who meet income requirements would be eligible for up to $7,000 in child care, school-coordinated transportation, online tutoring, and school tuition.

“In Arizona, we’re going to ensure continued access to in-person learning,” said Governor Ducey said in a statement. “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. Parents are best suited to make decisions about their child’s education. In-person learning is vital for the development, well-being and educational needs of K-12 students. We will continue to work with families, public health experts and school leaders to ensure our kids can stay in the classroom and parents have a choice — always.”

The change broadens the scope of the Arizona Educational Benefit Recovery program. The program is limited to parents making up to 350% of the Federal Poverty Level, which is roughly $66,000 for a family of four.

Federal employment data reflects the importance of in-person learning on the economy, especially for working women. According to U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data, 863,000 women dropped out of the workforce in September 2020, compared to 168,000 men. That month represents a national shift to remote learning as the fall semester began.

Ducey’s announcement is in response to a push to return public schools to remote learning in recent days.

“Parents should be preparing for a temporary shift to remote learning,” Arizona Education Association President Joe Thomas said on Jan. 3. “It will be due to not enough staff being able to report for work.”

On Tuesday, the Arizona Department of Health Services announced 7,212 new cases of COVID-19 infection in the state, attributing 154 new deaths to the virus.