Rep. Bizzarro bill would give school districts flexibility with required instructional days in cases of disaster, emergency declarations

HARRISBURG, July 15 -- In an effort to gives schools the flexibility to prioritize student and faculty safety during disaster and emergency declarations, state Rep. Ryan Bizzarro introduced legislation that would give school districts the authority needed to adjust the 180-day instruction requirement.

In the case of disaster or emergency declaration by the governor, House Bill 2704 would authorize individual school districts to request an exemption from the 180-day requirement. The bill would permit brick and mortar schools to include virtual education days in meeting the 180-day requirement.

“Pennsylvania’s school districts need flexibility to quickly respond to emergent situations. Student safety and quality learning opportunities should remain at the forefront of decision making. My bill would allow schools to include online learning days as part of the 180-day requirement,” explained Bizzarro. “If necessary, they would also have the ability to reduce the number of required instructional days.”

If enacted, a school district would submit an exemption request to the Pa. Department of Education for consideration. The Pa. Secretary of Education would then decide if the school district made bona fide effort to provide a reasonable number of instruction days.

“A statewide response is not always reasonable and can put more children at a disadvantage. For example, each region of the state has been impacted by COVID-19 in different ways. It’s important that this flexibility be leveraged so that we can provide as many instructional days to Pennsylvania students as possible,” Bizzarro said.

The bill now moves to the House Education Committee for consideration.