HARRISBURG – A bill that would allow students facing an extended absence from school due to injury or illness to continue to participate in classroom activities and learning was approved today by the House of Representatives, according to one of the bill’s prime sponsors, Senator Scott Martin (R-13).
Senate Bill 144, which was introduced by Martin and Senator Ryan P. Aument (R-36) and Senate Democrat Leader Jay Costa (D-43), would create a new grant program to help Intermediate Units purchase technology that will allow homebound students to participate in normal classroom learning, schoolwork and activities remotely through the use of telepresence technology.
The technology includes robotic devices that resemble an i-Pad mounted on a mobile Segway unit that allow real-time communication between students and their classrooms.
“It is already difficult for young people to deal with a serious illness or injury without the added stress of missing out on valuable time with classmates and instructional time with their teachers,” Martin said. “This bill would ensure more students can continue to learn and grow along with their classmates even when they cannot physically attend school.”
In current practice, homebound education is available to students who cannot attend school due to serious medical issues. However, Martin said many schools struggle to find a qualified teacher to provide instruction.
The grant program would be administered by the Pennsylvania Department of Education. Funding would come from any undistributed money that is not already committed to other projects, so it would not create a new expenditure for state taxpayers, Martin said.
The bill was amended by the House and was sent back to the Senate for consideration. Martin said he hopes the bill will be considered in the Senate and sent to the governor in the days ahead.
CONTACT: Terry Trego (717) 787-6535