Previously, the Pennsylvania Department of Education stated transportation would not be required for nonpublic students during school closures that were caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, in a press release issued on September 1, 2020, a change was announced by the Department of Education (DOE).
The updated guidance released by Pennsylvania DOE states in Section 1726-A of the School Code that school districts are required to provide transportation to charter schools for residents enrolled in that school. In addition to this, Section 1361 states that a school district that provides transportation to resident public school students are required to make “identical provision” for the free transportation of resident students who are attending non-public schools. This must be done in accordance with the geographic parameters set in the law. It is important to note that special education students will also be provided with transportation to in-person classes.
This transportation is required to be provided during regular school hours. The Pennsylvania DOE states this must be done on such dates and periods that the nonprofit non-public school is in regular session, according to the official school calendar.
State Senator Andy Dinniman, also minority chair for the Senate Education Committee, spoke regarding the matter in saying, “I’m glad that PDE updated its stance and made a decision that is in line with the school code. For parents and families of all students, including those attending in-person classes in charter and nonpublic schools, the uncertainty of the pandemic coupled with the start of the school year is stressful enough. I hope this provides some relief and assurance during an unprecedented situation.”
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