What the Shutdown Means for Ohio's Schools


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There are a few things that you can't do today, thanks to the federal government shutdown.

You can't file a new application for Social Security benefits.

You won't be visiting one of the national parks in Ohio.

If you're a student from Upper Arlington's St. Agatha School on your eighth-grade field trip in Washington, D.C., you won't be admiring the U.S. Capitol.

And you can't even watch the video feed of the baby pandas hanging out at the National Zoo.

But how does the shutdown, which began on Tuesday after Congress couldn't come up with an agreement to continue to fund federal departments and offices, affect Ohio's students and teachers?

EdWeek's Alyson Klein writes that most K-12 schools won't be significantly impacted by a short-term shutdown.

But school district administrators looking to the U.S. Department of Education for answers to questions might get a little frustrated, as about 4,000 of the department's employees have been furloughed. They've even been instructed to not check their work email accounts during this week, Klein writes. If the shutdown stretches further than seven days, a limited number of employees could return to work, no more than 6 percent of the department's more than 4,220 full-time employees.

As far as funding goes, most of the federal money for this year has already been approved and is en route to being distributed, according to The Washington Post. But the department's contingency plan says that unforseen problems could arise if the shutdown goes on longer than a week.

If that does happen, higher education students who receive federal money via Pell Grants and Direct Student Loans could hit a roadblock, the Post said, because there will be limited employees to help with payment processing.

Barbara Haxton, executive director of Ohio's Head Start programs, said that Ohio's 40,000 children who are enrolled in the federal low-income educational programs for infants and toddlers won't be affected as of right now.

"The shutdown is not a threat yet. As far as we know, doors will open tomorrow and stay open for a reasonable period of time," Haxton told Dayton's WHIO on Monday. "We think we will be okay for a couple of weeks."

And even the Internet isn't immune to the shutdown.

Websites belonging to the U.S. Department of Education and the Institute of Education Sciences both display messages saying that the sites would be down until funding is restored.

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