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Legislators Don’t Want Remote Learning Used As Punishment

Kimberly Jean Pierre

Should students whose classroom behavior is a problem be forced into remote learning?

At least two New York lawmakers say the answer is no.

Assemblywoman Kimberly Jean-Pierre, D-Lindenhurst, and state Sen. Rachel May, D-Syracuse, have sponsored A.7913/S.6794, which would amend the state Education Law prohibiting the use of remote or virtual learning as a form of punishment or disciplinary action.

“There are many potential benefits that promise to offer families greater flexibility and accessibility in schools. There is one use for remote learning that should not be on the table: use of remote or virtual learning as a punishment,” May and Jean-Pierre wrote in their legislative justification. “The use of remote learning as a punishment for students has received some attention in the national media– This legislation will prohibit the use of remote learning as a form of punishment or disciplinary action except in limited circumstances related to compliance with public health orders.”

Among the pieces of national media attention Jean-Pierre and May are referring to is a May 4 story by NBC.com that detailed cases in several states, including New York, in which children were removed from their classroom and told to attend virtual classes. One case involved Raynardo Antonio, a kindergarten student in Manhattan who school officials said was not wearing his mask and following other COVID-19 safety rules. The student, however, also has speech and language impairments that make it hard for him to comply with instructions and to express himself, especially while wearing a mask, according to the NBC.com story.

Jean-Pierre and May propose allowing Schools to use remote or virtual learning for limited public health needs, such as failure to follow mask and social distancing guidelines. The legislators also would require such a policy to be included in the district’s code of conduct and to be posted on the school district’s website.

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