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Senate of Pennsylvania
Session of 2019 - 2020 Regular Session


Posted: March 11, 2020 05:55 PM
From: Senator Andrew E. Dinniman
To: All Senate members
Subject: Coronavirus Disease and Schools: Allowing for Online Instruction
Let’s face facts. Today, the World Health Organization formally declared COVID-19 a pandemic. All you have to do is read the news from Italy and, in our own nation New Rochelle NY, to see the situation which we in Pennsylvania will be faced with in the weeks ahead. The school districts in my area are already calling me, asking for specific direction from the state and reporting concerns with the Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) guidance to view the need for extended school closures on a “case-by-case basis”. During this health crisis, school districts need the authority to act in a quick and efficient manner.

My proposal would allow each district to deliver online instruction until the end of the 2019-20 school year. While I realize that many districts in the Commonwealth are not equipped to provide online instruction to all students, we have a responsibility to those that can to be allowed to do so. In districts that do not have the capability to offer online instruction, PDE shall, within two weeks of enactment of this legislation, work with those districts to develop a plan for online/alternate instruction.

In the face of the pandemic, many of our institutions of higher learning have already modified their method of delivering instruction for the remainder of their school year and we must allow our school districts to do the same.

I hope you will join me in legislation that will not only keep our students and families safe but hopefully assist in quelling the spread of the pandemic.