Online learning has created a battlefield between elected school board members and parents. Parents have been extremely vocal advocating for students to return to in-person learning believing that they are suffering from missing out on valuable lessons taught by educators. Locally elected school board members have been pressured with government restrictions and health district officials recommendations when making these types of decisions.

It’s been officially a year since COVID-19 was declared a pandemic and a new legislation has just been passed through the Idaho House on Thursday that would give parents more freedom and power in deciding how their children are schooled despite what local school boards might impose.

The new bill would require the state to pay parents who choose to pull their kids out of public school because the school is not providing in-person instruction at least four days of the week. Parents would receive a pro-rated portion of payment of per-student funds that school districts were allocating for the school year anyway. The parents could then use that money for educational expenses.

Rep. Codi Galloway, R-Boise, a former elementary school teacher sponsored the bill and brought it before the House. Ultimately the bill passed the House on a 55-15 vote. All 12 House Democrats and three House Republicans opposed the bill.

This bill would potentially add pressure for districts to return to in-person learning to avoid losing students and furthermore, funding. According to Galloway, there are currently 141 districts in the state already open for in-person, full-time instruction. Twenty-seven are currently in hybrid or remote.

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