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Bipartisan Bill Allowing Flexible Instruction Days in Case of Extended Emergency School Closures Passes Assembly

Burzichelli, Schepisi, Lampitt and Stanfield Sponsor Legislation

To allow virtual and remote learning to meet the 180-day instruction requirement for school districts in case of extended emergency school closures, the full Assembly voted 55-0-9 passing legislation on Monday.

The bill (A-3813) would apply during a declared state of emergency, public health emergency, or when a directive by the appropriate health agency or officer to close a school is given. It also makes further provisions during a public health emergency for approved private schools for students with disabilities.

Bipartisan sponsors of the bill issued the following statements:

Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem): “We’re nearing the point where total school closures could be instituted. As many schools prepare for students to learn from home, it is crucial school districts are equipped with the guidelines and flexibility for remote instruction when it needs to happen. At the end of the day, schools should not feel compelled to keep children in classes if they would be safer learning from home.”

Assemblywoman Holly Schepisi (R-Bergen, Passaic): “We must think of the safety of the children and those who work in education during this pandemic. With many school closing or near closing, it’s vitally important to make sure we institute a plan so the education process can continue, from home if need, and grant the school districts the ability to make the choice to continue their student’s learning process remotely.”

Assemblywoman Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington): “The last thing we want is for the school year and students’ education to be disrupted. Putting legislation like this on the books is key to ensuring school preparedness. Whether we’re talking about the coronavirus or something else, this measure is important in helping schools develop a plan to navigate any major emergency that comes their way.

Assemblywoman Jean Stanfield (R-Burlington): “With mass school closing a possibility, it’s important to provide a way for the education process to continue with minimal interruptions. By providing the schools with guidelines to remotely instruct students we will do just that. Schools should not be made to continue in-person learning if distance learning is a safer and available option during this pandemic.”