Education news

Most Georgians believe parents should receive small federal grant funds to help pay for school supplies, child care and other expenses while their children are taking online classes amid the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a poll released this week.

Surveying Georgians likely to vote in the upcoming Nov. 3, the poll found roughly 77% would support Gov. Brian Kemp tapping into around $105 million in emergency funds to provide families with so-called microgrants, which cover small one-time expenses.

The poll also found many parents have spent $500 or more already on costs they would not normally have due to the need for virtual learning, such as computer hardware, child-care services, tutoring, internet access and services for students with disabilities.

“Georgians back microgrants because they understand not every family has the resources to educate their child at home and not all children can learn virtually,” said Christy Riggins, Georgia field director for the American Federation for Children. “We all want kids to get back to normal as quickly as possible, but until that happens, this program will bridge the gap in a way that will pay dividends literally throughout the students’ entire lives.”

The poll was conducted for the American Federation for Children and other groups by the Washington, D.C.-based firm Cygnal. It had a margin of error of 3.87%.

Many of Georgia’s nearly 2 million K-12 students started off this school year with virtual classes as the pandemic has continued to spark concerns from public-health and education officials over the potential for the virus to spread within school communities.

State officials have already made available funding opportunities for schools to receive federal dollars to boost internet access and for low-income families to help pay child-care costs for students learning from home while their parents work.

The state Department of Education has left it to local school districts whether to hold classes in-person or conduct them virtually amid the pandemic.

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