Financial shortfalls ahead if schools go online learning only?

Published: Jul. 14, 2020 at 9:13 AM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - All 50 states opened up at different rates by mid-June but the coronavirus cases have surged as Americans have tried to get back to living their lives.

California and New Mexico have reversed course on in-store shopping, dining and now attention is turning to schools in the fall.

To talk about the economic destruction that could be caused by an online-only learning environment for Kentucky is independent fiduciary financial advisor Rob De Lessio of Strategic Wealth Designers.

De Lessio says it’s a tough decision that no matter which direction the state or the districts go, some parties are going to be unhappy.

“We’ve seen Los Angeles already announce they are going to an online-only learning environment, Indianapolis, closer to here, has a district that has made the same announcement,” De Lessio says. “For the economy not opening would be very bad, parents trying to teach kids at home while trying to maintain their responsibilities with employers is difficult at best, at the same time you have teachers unions and college professors saying ‘we don’t want to go back into that kind of an environment.’ The bigger problem would not be sending kids back to school but it certainly would not sit well with some.”

The CDC has laid out the guidelines for what is needed for schools to open in a social distanced environment but some districts will have difficulty adhering to those guidelines without some far-reaching creativity.

De Lessio says classroom size and alternating days will be some potential options.

“Right now, it doesn’t look good for school to be back in session based on the guidelines. There’s talk of going every other day and adding in Saturday’s,” De Lessio says. “Keeping students in isolated groups will be difficult, especially for the older grades of middle school and high school. The silver lining that the WHO stated just yesterday is that severe illness in those under 20 is very rare, so at least that is a positive.”

From an economic standpoint, private schools and college campuses are in-line to be hurt the most if classes can’t be attended in person. De Lessio says it’s very hard for parents to justify paying private school tuition cost or full tuition costs for Universities if the experience is an online-only one from their own home.

“Depending on how many kids you have in private school or headed to college, you could typically be looking at anywhere from $5,000 to $100,000 in expenses and what parent is going to be willing to pay $30,000 for their 3 kids to go to private online school from their house, it’s not going to happen,” De Lessio says.

The only thing that is certain at this point is that the districts and the college campuses are running out of time to make a decision for the fall.

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