Local Schools Struggle to Provide Online Classes
A requirement that all students have equal access to online instruction has kept some school districts from implementing cyber lessons.
Has your school started offering online instruction yet? If not, you aren't alone.
Pennsylvania says schools do not have to offer cyber learning, but if they do, all students must have equal access.
"Whatever decision is made, (they) must ensure full access to learning for all students, with particular attention to free appropriate public education (FAPE) for students with disabilities and English as a second language (ESL) services for English Learners," Pennsylvania's education department says on its website.
Philadelphia School District has already decided it can't offer remote learning because not every student will be able to access it.
"If that’s not available to all children, we cannot make it available to some,” Superintendent William R. Hite Jr. said, according to the Associated Press.
Philadelphia is not alone. The Rose Tree Media School District in Delaware County said it is prepared to offer online learning but has not done so, in part, because of concerns of accessbility.
"If districts strive to provide continuity of education, they legally have to make sure that they are meeting the legal obligations to students with special needs – something much harder to do under these circumstances," it wrote.
The district is also concerned about the cost if it has to pay teachers for online instruction as well as a longer school year when and if students return to classes this year.
Rose Tree Media says only three districts in Delaware County are attempting online learning.
"All other districts in our area are doing what we are: offering optional educational activities and resources for families to take part in during the school closures," it said.
Of districts that planned to offer online classes howewer, "Some of these districts have now pulled back their 'new' learning and others are following. Other districts across PA are doing the same thing having reconsidered the risk and received further guidance and counsel."
Because it is federal law that requires equal access to education for all students, the same issue is affecting many states, including New Jersey, according to USA Today.
For more information about the school closures in Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Delaware, check here