Public schools in Durham, North Carolina will stay closed this fall, but the school district will open six “learning centers,” where the virus will apparently not spread, WRAL reported.
Durham Public Schools will charge parents an additional $140 per week, plus a $35 registration fee, to supervise their children while they stare into their computers for online instruction.
Children of DPS employees will pay a reduce rate of $105 while students receiving free or low-cost lunches will pay $70.
The North Carolina Institute for Constitutional Law submitted a request for records to determine why the school district decided to offer reduced rates to public school teachers, even though they did not experience pay cuts or job losses during the pandemic, NCILC reported in a press release.
Senate Minority Leader Phil Berger, R-Rockingham, said Durham Public Schools renamed schools “learning centers” in an attempt to extract more money from citizens.
“Charging a tax on families who wish to access public learning center resources inside public schools is unconstitutional,” Berger said.
“Durham, and any other jurisdiction charging this illegal tax, is preventing underprivileged families from accessing public school resources,” he added. “They need to repeal their unconstitutional school tax immediately.”
Berger said the state’s Constitution requires “a general and uniform system of free public schools…wherein equal opportunities shall be provided for all students.”
DPS Superintendent Pascal Mubeng said the school district made the right decision to protect students by keeping them out of schools and instead placing them in learning centers.
“Opening our school year remotely is the right decision to protect our students and staff from COVID-19,” he said.
“However, there are many families in Durham who need additional support during the school day,” he continued. “It will take a community effort to support each of these children, but DPS is doing its part.”
Instructors at the learning centers will feed students, provide social-emotional programs, and coach them through their internet-based coursework.
Students will be required to stay six feet away from their fellow classmates, cover their smiles with facemasks, sit in isolated pods without physical contact, and be subject to so-called wellness screenings.