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Education

Students at Tennessee schools that go remote due to COVID surge could get vouchers

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Courtesy Metro Nashville Public Schools
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Senate Republicans are advancing a bill that would entice school districts to keep schools open for the full 180 days instead of closing due to COVID-19.

Students attending schools that don’t allow for 180 days of in-person learning could be eligible to attend a school of their choice the following year using a school voucher, if a legislative proposal passes.

Sen. Mike Bell, R-Riceville, is sponsoring the bill, SB1674 / HB1671.

“We’re doing this because we know that in-person learning is the most effective way to educate a child,” said Bell.

But Sen. Joey Hensley, R-Hohenwald, questioned how this helps the students if this kind of school voucher, also called an education savings account, isn’t applied until the following school year.

“How does this bill — besides the threat of the student qualifying for the ESA — how does that keep them?” asked Hensley. “Because we want them now to be going to school.”

Democrats also say the bill is an attack on Memphis and Nashville, which are already targets of a school voucher program currently tied up in legal challenges.

Despite some objections, the proposal now heads to the full Senate.

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