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Shorter weeks, longer days? Pennsylvania poised to give schools flexibility on minimum requirements

Desks fill a classroom in a high school in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.
Matt Rourke
Desks fill a classroom in a high school in Pennsylvania on Wednesday, May 3, 2023.

A bill that would give Pennsylvania school districts greater flexibility to have shorter school weeks or longer days, as long as students meet an annual minimum of instructional time, is headed to the governor’s desk for his approval.

The legislation passed both chambers unanimously. It changes Pennsylvania law to allow for schools to complete the school year in either a minimum of 180 days or 900 hours at the elementary level and 990 at the secondary level. Currently, schools must do both.

A spokesperson said Democratic Gov. Josh Shapiro plans to sign it.

Sponsors said Pennsylvania has been one of fewer than 20 states with both minimum day and minimum hour requirements. They argued it has held schools to rigid schedules that do not allow for flexibility in addressing student needs.

The bill would give schools the ability to make changes to accommodate weather conditions, professional development and community events, supporters said. It also can help accommodate student apprenticeships, internships, and career and technical education programs.

It will also let schools track students who learn remotely through hours of instruction, rather than days.