Every kid in Pa. has the right to a school year ‘do over.’ But if families want that, they have to act fast.
Every student in Pennsylvania is eligible to repeat a grade to make up for COVID-19 learning losses, but families who want to exercise that right have to move quickly.
Legislation signed by Gov. Tom Wolf last week gives parents until July 15 to notify schools of their intention to have their children take advantage of the option. The new law, known as Act 66, also gives students with disabilities who turned 21 during the 2020-21 school year the opportunity to stay for another year.
Pennsylvania is one of a number of states that have passed such laws.
The pandemic scrambled learning for public schools across Pennsylvania; in most districts, children attended school virtually for much of the year. Some children, such as 10th through 12th graders in Philadelphia and students in the Southeast Delco School District, never set foot inside a classroom.
Educators did their best to adapt, but there will be gaps in the fall, say experts, who also generally agree that schools should not have students repeat a grade except in rare circumstances.
Philadelphia parent Heidi Allen’s son fits that bill, she said. The boy, who has multiple disabilities, was a kindergartner in the Philadelphia School District this past school year. It was a struggle to get him to sit for online school, let alone retain material in a crucial year of schooling.
“Virtual just did not work, he didn’t really have a kindergarten year — he lost a year of school,” said Allen. “It’s no one’s fault, but it happened, and my kid isn’t going to be the kid that makes up two years in one year.”
The law, Allen said, is a godsend for her family and others.