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Pandemic home-schooling puts Americans into debt: report

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Aug 19, 2020 - 05:02 AM

WASHINGTON — A significant proportion of Americans whose children are attending classes from home due to COVID-19 are going into debt to pay for food and school supplies, a survey released Tuesday found.

The United States is grappling with the world’s worst coronavirus outbreak and many school districts have shifted classes at least partially online to prevent transmission of the coronavirus as students resume their studies following the summer break.

The report from personal finance company Credit Karma found 33 percent of more than 1,000 parents whose children would be at home at least part of the time surveyed in July don’t feel financially prepared for extra expenses associated with their children learning at home.

A quarter have already gone into debt to pay for the unexpected costs, while 12 percent say they expect to do so by the end of the year.

Of those who went into debt, 38 percent said it was due to having “to provide learning supplies that I typically rely on my kid(s)’ school to provide, such as textbooks, pens, notebooks, learning software or laptops/tablets,” according to the survey.

Another 32 percent said they “had no option other than going into debt to provide school supplies,” while 27 percent said they “now have to pay for breakfast and lunch for my kid(s), which their school usually provides.”

That was despite 67 percent of all survey respondents saying they’d received or expected to get some form of assistance from school districts.

Credit Karma also found almost two-thirds of working parent respondents said they felt they had to compromise their careers to deal with their children who were at home, while a slightly higher proportion reported working longer hours to help their kids with learning.

More than half of single mothers reported feeling unprepared for the added expenses, the most of any group surveyed.

Congress remains deadlocked on providing additional aid to Americans after programs paid for by the $2.2 trillion CARES Act rescue package passed in March expired.

President Donald Trump has called for schools to reopen but Democrats and Republicans in Congress can’t reach an agreement on a larger fiscal bill that could include money for education.

“For schools and businesses to get the resources they need to safely reopen, for small businesses to keep their doors open and for those that have lost their jobs to continue to provide for their families, Congress must act,” US Chamber of Commerce Vice President Neil Bradley said on Tuesday.

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