School district closes schools, charges students $140 per week to attend 'learning centers'

Employees of the school system will get a reduced rate.

Published: August 15, 2020 2:31pm

Updated: August 15, 2020 3:01pm

Shortly after announcing that the fall semester would begin online, the board of education of the Durham, North Carolina public school department said it will charge families $140 per week to send their children to "learning centers" at various local schools. 

The school board, which last month said it planned to activate its "Plan C" and start school in the fall with virtual learning, this week "authorized the opening of six learning centers to provide support for students who need supervision" while schools remain online, according to the school district's website.

DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubenga stated that there are "many families in Durham who need additional support during the school day." The learning center initiative is specifically "part of a broader community initiative to support working families and families with increased economic hardships," the district's website stated. 

The learning centers will "provide a safe space to complete online learning, meals and snacks, and social-emotional activities," the district said. 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."

Families will be charged a "regular rate" of $140 per week to send their children to the centers. Families with employees of the school system will get a reduced rate of $105 per week, while low-income students will be charged $70 per week. A $35 signup charge will also be collected from most families. 

"Learning centers" will be operated for both elementary and middle school students, officials said. 

Numerous school districts across the country have announced their intent to continue with distance-learning programs at least through the start of the semester and possibly for the duration of it, citing concerns that schools could become hotspots for COVID-19 transmission. 

Many experts have claimed that, according to epidemiological data, children are unlikely to contract COVID-19, fall gravely ill from it, and/or spread it to other children or adults. 

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Director Robert Redfield said last month that the child mortality rate for the disease is "one-in-a-million." Presidential medical advisor Scott Atlas, meanwhile, said this week that the danger that coronavirus presents to children is "even less than that of seasonal flu." 

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