Phillips-Hill: New law paves the way for optional use of flexible instructional days for schools in PA

HARRISBURG – A new state law will provide school districts with another tool to address unplanned school closures, according to Senator Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York), who sponsored the legislation.

Act 64 of 2019 will allow school districts, both public and private, charter schools, career and technical schools and intermediate units to apply with the Pennsylvania Department of Education to have the option to use up to five flexible instructional days per school year in the event of a closure. Schools would need to reapply every three years.

Schools may use technology to ensure the continuity of learning during a flexible instructional day. Students who lack internet access at home will also have special accommodations. The Department of Education recently conducted a three-year pilot program with a dozen schools, including three in Senator Phillips-Hill’s district.

“Flexible instructional days have been very popular for Central York, Red Lion and Southern York County School Districts and I’m pleased to see the governor acknowledge the merits of this helpful tool for schools to address unplanned closures,” Phillips-Hill said. “Act 64 will allow each school district to work with its students, parents, faculty and school board to see if flexible instructional days should be implemented. I have heard positive reviews from local parents whose children attend schools involved in the pilot program. Opening this option to the entire state makes sense to ensure there is a continuity in learning when extenuating circumstances close school buildings.”

Schools would need to provide flexible instruction in English and math for all students, as well as science and social studies for high school students.

The new law takes effect in 60 days.

You can listen to Senator Phillips-Hill discuss the new law here.