HARRISBURG – Parents will now have the option to allow their children to repeat a grade level due to learning disruptions caused by COVID-19 as part of a new law authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Jake Corman (R-Bellefonte).
Senate Bill 664, now Act 66 of 2021, gives parents the power to make the decision on whether their child should advance to the next grade level by July 15.
The Pennsylvania Department of Education will develop a standardized form for parents to complete and return to their school if they elect to hold their child back a year. The form is expected to be available on the Department’s website soon.
In current practice, the decision on whether to hold a student back is made solely by the child’s school and teacher.
“Remote learning has been very hard on parents and children alike, and I have heard many of my fellow parents sharing concerns about the learning loss their kids have experienced during the pandemic,” Corman said. “Given these extreme circumstances, it makes sense to empower parents to make the final decision about the education of their children.”
The new law also allows parents the option to extend enrollment in special education programs for an extra year due to COVID-19. This provision will prevent students with special needs from aging out of the system at age 21 after missing out on much of the specialized attention they need due to COVID-19 disruptions.
In addition, the law extends eligibility for programs under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act during the next school year. The additional optional year of education also applies to children who attend schools responsible for the education of deaf and blind students.
Governor Wolf signed the bill into law today.
CONTACT: Jason Thompson