Davis: Emergency legislation shortening school year, ensuring financial assistance to schools and employees passes House

HARRISBURG, March 25 – Emergency legislation that shortens the school year and ensures financial assistance to schools and their staff as part of the commonwealth’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic unanimously passed the state House on Wednesday, announced state Rep. Austin Davis.

“There’s no way to plan for something of this magnitude,” Davis said. “But what we can do is work together to ensure students aren’t penalized for something they couldn’t control.”

Davis, D-Allegheny, said the legislation – Senate Bill 751 – also passed the Senate and will now go to Gov. Tom Wolf’s desk to be signed into law.

The COVID-19 crisis in Pennsylvania led to a statewide, two-week school closure on March 13. That order was extended Monday through April 6, with the possibility of continued extensions to ensure student and staff safety from the highly contagious respiratory disease.

These continued extensions, Davis said, will make it hard for school districts to reach the state-mandated 180 instructional day school year. This measure waives that mandate and also allows for the shortening of hours required for a career and technical program, days for preschool instruction, and the 12-week requirement for student teachers.

Davis added that any school staff member employed by a school district as of March 13 would still be paid and receive credit toward their pension, under the bill.