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No In-Person Classes? Idaho House Wants To Give Parents A Voucher

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Carolyn Thompson
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Parents could get a voucher to pay for their kids’ education if their public school doesn’t offer in-person instruction at least four days per week under a bill passed by the Idaho House Wednesday.

The proposal passed with near-unanimous support from Republicans.

If signed into law, parents would receive funding that would normally go to their public school and could use it toward private school tuition or home schooling expenses if their child couldn’t take in-person classes.

House Assistant Majority Leader Jason Monks (R-Meridian), who has four school-aged kids, points to research that shows coronavirus transmission rates are low in the classroom.

“We have no idea what this is doing to these kids, their futures. They’ve got to go back to school and if this is how we can force them to get back to school, I’ll take it,” Monks said.

Studies have found enforcing mitigation efforts like wearing a mask, physical distancing and proper hygiene worked at preventing COVID-19 clusters and secondary transmission.

Rep. Gary Marshall (R-Idaho Falls) was one of three Republicans who voted against the bill.

Marshall said the lack of oversight on how parents choose to spend the money gives him pause. He says he could’ve supported a hypothetical bill requiring kids be in class five days per week.

“But on this one, I can’t. It doesn’t make sense. It is like a sledgehammer driving a finish nail,” Marshall said.

All 12 Democrats voted against the measure. They said decisions about in-person classes should be left up to local school boards.

The bill now heads to the Senate.

Follow James Dawson on Twitter @RadioDawson for more local news.

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