With schools shutdown for coronavirus, students are experiencing a tremendous disruption to their academics, extra-curricular activities and spring sports programs. To help offset missed opportunities and potential learning loss, the Assembly Appropriations Committee cleared a bill Monday enabling graduating high school seniors from the classes of 2021 and 2022 to participate in a ‘bridge year’ immediately following their senior year.
Specifically, the legislation (A-4142) directs the Commissioner of Education to establish a three-year “Bridge Year Pilot Program” allowing students to defer graduation and remain enrolled in high school while taking a certain number of college credits with non-matriculated status. During this year, students would be able to participate, under certain conditions, in extracurricular activities offered by their host high school and in spring sports as permitted by the New Jersey State Interscholastic Athletic Association.
Assembly Democrats Pamela Lampitt (D-Camden, Burlington) and Mila Jasey (D-Essex, Morris), sponsors of the bill, issued the following joint statement:
“Now that students will definitively finish out this school year from home, legislation to address potential learning loss is crucial. For countless high schoolers across the State, the spring term is critical to their academic careers.
“It’s a time when sophomores and juniors are supposed to be taking or preparing to take their college entrance exams, are participating in extracurriculars to explore their interests and engaging with their peers, doing community service or playing a competitive sport, some with the hope of being recruited to a college program.
“Despite schools and educators finding innovative ways to keep the student body connected through distance learning, some activities simply don’t translate in an online setting. Affording high schoolers, whose educational experiences will look different from their peers as a result of this pandemic, a chance to make up for lost time is how we offset the impact of these unprecedented times.”