HARRISBURG – Schools would have more flexibility to respond to the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic under legislation that was approved by the Senate this week, according to State Senator Doug Mastriano (R-33), who supported the bill.
Senate Bill 1216 would ease many certification and staff development requirements that are difficult to fulfill during the pandemic, including waiving the basic skills exam requirement for teacher preparation programs until June 30, 2021; issuing temporary or provisional instructional certificates to individuals who meet certain criteria; extending special education certifications; and extending the deadline to satisfy staff development requirements until June 30, 2021.
“The pandemic has made it extremely difficult – if not impossible – for teachers and prospective teachers to comply with mandated certification requirements,” said Mastriano. “Efforts taken by the General Assembly will help streamline the process for educators to receive those necessary clearances.”
Emergency permit holders would also be allowed to continue to teach, even if they are unable to complete the requirements associated with the permit, because the program credits or assessment could not be completed.
In addition, the bill would delay the use of the Keystone Exams as a graduation requirement until the 2022-23 school year. Also, any student who completed a course in an academic content area associated with a Keystone Exam is not required to take the test related to that course.
Also, the state’s Education Secretary would have the authority to waive the National Institute for Metalworking Skills assessment and the National Occupational Competency Testing Institute exam requirements.
Additionally, the measure deals with several issues pertaining to pupil transportation. The legislation ensures school entities receive a subsidy payment that is equal to previous years and ensures contractors receive payment from the school entity at normal costs. Also, the bill provides for the transportation of nonpublic school students during the COVID-19 emergency, regardless of whether public schools are open during that time.