Swift action on the bill is expected
Senator Tom Killion (R-Chester and Delaware) announced today his co-sponsorship of comprehensive legislation that will waive the 180 instructional-day requirement for Pennsylvania schools and require the commonwealth to apply for an exemption from federal standardized testing requirements due to public health measures taken in response to the COVID-19 emergency.
“COVID-19 is an unprecedented public health emergency,” noted Killion. “In addition to protecting the health and welfare of Pennsylvanians, we must take extraordinary steps to lessen the impact on institutions like our schools. This legislation ensures that students, teachers and school employees will not be penalized for circumstances beyond their control and will allow schools to devote as much time as possible to instruction.”
The legislation, sponsored by Senate Education Committee Chairman Wayne Langerholc (R-Cambria), addresses the length of the school year, school employee compensation, pension calculations, state subsidies and other areas.
Most notably, the legislation waives the requirement that schools hold 180 instructional days per school year and mandates the PA Secretary of Education apply to the US Department of Education for a waiver of the PA System of School Assessment and Keystone Exams for the 2019-2020 school year.
The legislation was drafted in consultation with Republican and Democratic leadership in both the State Senate and House, the Wolf Administration, Pennsylvania Department of Education. It is anticipated the bill will be considered next week, the first in which the Senate will be in session under temporary emergency rules which allow for members to vote without being present in the Capitol.
Rep. Chris Quinn (R-Middletown) is co-sponsoring similar legislation in the House of Representatives.
“I’m pleased this legislation has been drafted quickly and fast-tracked for passage,” said Quinn. “We must make sure students, schools, and district budgets are held harmless by measures taken to protect pubic health.”
“Pennsylvanians deserve effective leadership and clarity from state government in times of crisis,” noted Killion. “I hope this legislation puts parents, teachers and administrators at ease as we deal with the unique challenges of the COVID-19 emergency.”