Some Fairfield County parents are demanding refunds from preschools after their children were forced to transition to remote learning due to the COVID-19 outbreak.
A group representing parents of students served by Landmark Academy in Westport has launched a petition demanding partial refunds to account for distance learning and flexibility on deposits and tuition for the upcoming academic year.
“We don’t fault Landmark (or any other organization) for being slow to act regarding a decision on tuition for this semester,” they wrote. “The turbulence and uncertainty created by the pandemic has been bewildering and troubling for parents and schools alike.
“We are sad to admit, however, that we have found ourselves feeling a growing rift with the Landmark administration.”
The petitioners said that some parents have “suffered significant financial hardship caused by the pandemic, and found that Landmark was not willing to work with us regarding tuition.”
“It is broadly known, and we have all knowingly accepted in our individual judgments, that Landmark’s tuition is significantly higher than surrounding preschools,” they stated. “We associate this higher tuition with higher quality and higher service.
“It was thus a surprise and disappointment that we discovered other preschools were offering a more transparent, parent-friendly approach to the pandemic, while Landmark falsely told us at the time that no schools were offering refunds.”
Demands include a 50-percent credit of weekly tuition rates for up to 12 weeks of remote learning. They also want a refund of deposits for those who decide to withdraw from the upcoming year.
“We universally have been so impressed and grateful for our Landmark teachers and we do not want teachers to be affected in any way,” petitioners stated. “Many institutions have been able to protect employees through a combination of measures, such as voluntary pay cut of senior officers, cost savings on utilities and vendors during closures, renegotiation of vendor contracts, emergency government grants and loans, and payroll tax deferments.
“We understand that this pandemic has presented Landmark with unprecedented difficulties,” they added. “We wish to feel the sense of belonging and community at Landmark that we felt before the pandemic. While Landmark is educating our 2-, 3-, 4- , and 5-year-olds how to work together with one another, we first ask the school to work together with the families. “
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