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PA families can decide to repeat grade due to COVID-19 learning loss


Harrisburg, PA – Families in Pennsylvania can now decide to have their student repeat a grade if they feel they need to make up for any learning loss due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Pennsylvania Department of Education (PDE) provided information on a new law that permits parents, guardians, and students over the age of 18 to elect to have their children or themselves repeat their grade because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On June 30, 2021, Governor Wolf signed Act 66 of 2021 into law. This law allows students who were enrolled during the 2020-21 school year to repeat their grade level to make up for any learning loss due to the pandemic, even if the student met requirements to be promoted to the next grade level.

Additionally, Act 66 allows students with disabilities who were enrolled during the 2020-21 school year to attend a school during the 2021-22 school year and receive services detailed on their most recent Individualized Education Program (IEP) with full protections under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). These students are defined as those who turned 21 during the 2020-21 school year or turned 21 between the end of the 2020-21 school year and the beginning of the 2021-22 school year.

As required by Act 66, PDE developed and posted on its website a standard form for parents, guardians, and students at or over the age of 18 to notify school entities of their plan to remain in the current grade level and/or school for the upcoming school year. The completed form must be signed and submitted to the student’s district and/or school by July 15, 2021.

Act 66 applies to the following school entities: school district, Intermediate Unit (IU), charter or cyber charter school, regional charter school, nonpublic school, approved private schools, career and technical education centers, and chartered schools for the deaf and blind.

There are additional resources available to mitigate learning loss due to the pandemic including the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 Elementary and Secondary School Emergency Relief Fund (ARP ESSER). ARP ESSER will provide Pennsylvania with $4.9 billion in emergency funding to support the long-term work of education recovery. At least 90 percent, or $4.5 billion, of the fund will be distributed to eligible public-school districts and charter schools, with each entity receiving an amount proportional to the federal Title I-A funds received in 2020. Recognizing the differential effects of the pandemic and related challenges, PDE encourages schools to leverage ARP ESSER funding, as well as earlier rounds of federal emergency aid, to accelerate a return to in-person learning, while also planning for the long-term.

PDE offers a toolkit and a professional learning series to school leaders and educators to help address students’ learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Accelerated Learning through an Integrated System of Support” provides a voluntary process and research for school leaders to consider in preparing for the upcoming school year that addresses the academic and emotional well-being of students.

More information on Act 66 and answers to common questions can be found on PDE’s website.

More information on ARP ESSER is available on PDE’s website: education.pa.gov/ARPESSER.

More information on the Accelerated Learning toolkit and professional learning series is available on PDE’s website: education.pa.gov/AcceleratedLearning.

For more information about Pennsylvania’s education policies and programs, please visit the Department of Education’s website. Follow PDE on FacebookTwitterYouTubeFlickr, or Pinterest.