Twin Cities private schools reopen without state-funded services like nurses and buses

Many private schools are returning to in-person learning in the coming weeks, but some are doing it without state-funded essential services because they are located in public school districts that have opted to remain all online.

Tuesday was the first day of school at St. Agnes in St. Paul. While keeping students healthy is a top concern, they’re returning to in-person learning without a school nurse.

“In the midst of a pandemic, I think it’s immoral to not provide a nurse in a school that’s open, independent of what the district plans to do,” said Kevin Ferdinand.

In Minneapolis, Risen Christ Catholic School will be without buses.

“It’s basically reducing access to education for our families,” said Mike Rogers.

Both schools lost those services allocated through state law simply because the public school districts they are in aren’t returning to the classroom.

“As long as the law is what it is, our students deserve access to that funding,” Rogers added.

At Risen Christ, more than 90 percent of students are on free and reduced lunch. 80 percent of them ride the bus.

One 8th grader said, without transportation, he will be forced to stay home. He said his mother starts work at 4 a.m. and there is nobody else to take him.

So, while St. Agnes has filled the nurse position with parent volunteers, they say that is just a Band-Aid solution.

The districts have told FOX 9 the services they provide to private schools have to be consistent or equitable to what public schools receive. That is written in the law.

At the Department of Education, a spokesperson told FOX 9 that services provided by the districts meet the minimum requirements and that they “encourage all districts to collaborate with their non-public colleagues to find creative solutions that meet everyone’s needs.

As of Tuesday, Minneapolis Public Schools says it is reviewing options for getting buses to those non-public schools.