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Bipartisan Bill to Allow Flexible Instruction Days in Case of Extended Emergency School Closures Goes to Governor

Burzichelli, Schepisi and Lampitt Sponsor Legislation

(TRENTON) – To allow virtual and remote learning to meet the 180-day instruction requirement for schools in New Jersey in cases of extended emergency school closures, the Senate approved a measure on Thursday that now heads to the Governor’s desk.

The bill (A-3813) would apply to closures of more than three consecutive days in response to a declared state of emergency, public health emergency, or when a directive from the appropriate health agency or officer is given. It also makes further provisions to protect public school employees and during a public health emergency for approved private schools for students with disabilities and.

Bipartisan sponsors of the bill issued the following statements:

Assemblyman John J. Burzichelli (D-Gloucester, Cumberland and Salem): “We’re are now at the point where school closures have students learning from home. During these times and those ahead, ensuring school districts are equipped with the guidelines and flexibility for remote instruction when it needs to happen is crucial. 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.

The bill was approved 56-0-8 by the full Assembly on Monday March 16, 2020.