Atlanta — Parents of school-age children can breathe easier after the Georgia General Assembly approved the Learning Pods Protection Act, Georgia Public Policy Foundation President and CEO Kyle Wingfield said today.
Parents needed the certainty that learning pods would be protected from overregulation, Wingfield said.
“Remote learning, for one reason or another, is here to stay,” Wingfield said, “and some public school districts have already announced they will offer it as a full-time option in the fall. But we also saw earlier this month that, with severe weather threatening, many districts decided one evening that classes would be virtual the next day.
“If working parents were required to apply for a license, or find a pod that was already registered, many of them simply wouldn’t have any options. By ensuring that this innovative, flexible approach will remain unregulated, lawmakers are ensuring Georgia’s families will have options when they need them most.”
The new legislation, which still requires Gov. Brian Kemp’s signature, defines learning pods in the Georgia Code and clarifies that they are not schools or child-care centers and should not be regulated as such. They are exempt from, among other things, staffing ratios and certification requirements. The bill was carried in the Senate by Sen. Matt Brass, R-Newnan, and in the House by Rep. Rick Jasperse, R-Jasper. It was heard in the Senate Education and Youth Committee, chaired by Sen. Chuck Payne, R-Dalton, and in the House Education Committee, chaired by Rep. Matt Dubnik, R-Gainesville.
Georgia is one of many states making waves in their education policy in the wake of COVID-19, but the first to protect learning pods. State Policy Network President and CEO Tracie Sharp also hailed the bill’s passage.
“SPN congratulates Georgia for becoming the first state in the country to proactively empower parents and students by protecting learning pods,” Sharp said. “We thank lawmakers for their leadership on this important issue. We commend the Georgia Public Policy Foundation for raising awareness of this issue and working to ensure pod learning remains an option for students and families for years to come.”
The bill now awaits signature from Governor Kemp. The text of the bill is available here.