Renewed Push to Help Students Facing Long Medical Absence From School

Senator Scott Martin (R-13) reintroduced legislation that would provide new resources to students who face an extended absence from school due to injury or illness.

The bipartisan legislation, 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.

In current practice, homebound education is available to students who cannot attend school due to serious medical issues. However, many schools struggle to find a qualified teacher to provide instruction, and the extended amount of time away from classmates and teachers can also create difficult circumstances for children.

At a budget hearing with Pennsylvania Secretary of Education Pedro Rivera on Tuesday, Martin emphasized the need to use new and existing technology to support students who face challenging circumstances.

“One local school district estimated that anywhere from 10 to 15 students require alternative instruction every year. If you extrapolate that need across all of Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts, the need for more resources is extraordinary,” Martin said. “These kids already face difficult circumstances due to long-term injuries or illnesses. Allowing them to participate in normal classwork will help not only from an academic standpoint but also socially and emotionally so they do not feel isolated from their classmates and teachers.”

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.

Martin, Aument, and Costa introduced similar legislation last year (Senate Bill 1275).