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Apr 21, 2020

Interesting Psak: Paying Tuition while school is off because of Corona

One of the first things to be closed down when CoronaVirus was identified as spreading dangerously fast were the schools. Only after Pesach did distance learning really become a thing in any significant manner. Before Pesach there was a small amount of distance learning, but it was not serious, in both the amount of time daily, the amount of material, the importance given to it and the preparation for it. Even since Pesach, with it being taken more seriously, it is far from a full day of learning.

Because of that, many parents have spoken in frustration about paying tuition while there is not any real significant school. That talk might go away now with more serious distance learning in place, at least in many schools, But for much of the month of March, at least if not also April, parents think they should not have had to pay tuition.

I do not know if any parents actually cancelled their standing payments, but it was definitely discussed as a possibility. I am confident that there were surely some parents who cancelled, while others did not.

It is really a difficult situation, as schools still need to pay teachers, but many people have lost their jobs and businesses and might not have extra money to pay for schooling they are not even getting.

the question is a legal one, as well as a moral one, but it is also a halachic question.

The beis din in Beitar has now reportedly dealt with this issue and issued a psak. After conferring with government officials to determine the exact status of the finances and of the teachers (for example, the Ministry of Education prohibited schools from putting their teachers on unpaid leave), the beis din decided that school principals must discount part of the payments for the parents, and in a second some money will be refunded to the parents for previous payments.

According to the article linked, the psak was accepted as reasonable by all sides.

If the government is really looking for ways to help people struggling because of the closures and lockdowns, which I am not sure is really the case, one thing for them to do would be to stop all payments from parents and cover all costs of the schools in the interim, especially considering it i the government preventing the schools from putting the teachers on unpaid leave, during which they would be able to collect unemployment benefits.

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  1. When school was initially cancelled, my daughter's school sent out of a plea for parents to stop cancelling checks to the school. They still had bills to pay including teacher salaries.

    The school announced this week that school expenses are lower than the calculations originally used for calculating tuition. Some tiyulim and special programming were cancelled, some decrease in employment and other relevant expesnses. They will be making a cheshbon at the end of the year and a refund will be issued at the end of the year.

  2. sounds reasonable, but still doesnt answer the question of why should parents pay for the schools expenses, even if lowered, if the schools arent teaching the children (at least pro-rate it by the hours being taught relative to the hours they are supposed to be teaching in a normal situation

  3. Our sons' yeshiva high school immediately (i.e. even before Pesach) sent a letter saying they would be reducing tuition after a re-calculation.


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