Indiana education officials change school funding rules for virtual learning

Exercising special power granted during the pandemic, Indiana education officials rewrote school funding rules Wednesday to prevent cuts for virtual learning due to the coronavirus.

The State Board of Education created a new rule to address funding for students who would normally be in classrooms but are learning online because of the pandemic—including students in hybrid or all-virtual options, and those at schools that haven’t reopened for in-person instruction. The state will fully fund those students this fall, as though they were attending in-person.

The change aims to keep school funding steady through the pandemic and comes in response to a recent warning that schools could receive reduced state support if they don’t return to in-person learning.

Without the new rule, schools would see their per-student funding drop to 85% for online students—a loss that would equate, for example, to $28 million for Indianapolis Public Schools, which is staying all-virtual

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School funding is needed for student well-being, not only coronavirus safety rules

a sign on the side of a building: A physical distancing sign is seen at Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver, Sept. 2, 2020.

© THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
A physical distancing sign is seen at Hastings Elementary school in Vancouver, Sept. 2, 2020.

As the first yellow buses filled with students pull up to schools this September, a critical window for planning to manage the COVID-19 pandemic in schools has closed. With an eye on the whole school year, and children’s long-term social and academic development, teachers and school administrators continue to advocate for long-term planning that goes beyond this month.

Some may be glad to know that in Alberta, districts will receive a “a portion of $262 million in federal funds … to be allocated toward staffing, cleaning and personal protective equipment to reduce the risk of spreading COVID-19.” But educators also know that student wellness is about more than limiting viral spread.

Educators are concerned about how school closures have influenced their students’ academic progress and well-being. They are worried about

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