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COVID Impact: Bill Under Consideration In New Jersey That Would Allow Students To Redo Their Current School Year

TRENTON, N.J. (CBSNewYork) -- The amount of learning loss due to the coronavirus pandemic is still unknown. A proposed bill in the New Jersey Senate would give parents the right to determine if their child should repeat a year.

Dr. Tamika Covington fears that virtual learning has caused her son to fall behind.

"Not being able to communicate and collaborate with his friends and classmates, not being able to have that personal touch from teachers and guidance counselors and other staff members. Those things are really important toward developing the whole child," Covington told CBS2's Meg Baker on Wednesday.

She said she wants him to repeat his senior year, and thinks parents should be able to make that decision.

"They're able to see what their child's needs are, and some of the gaps in learning that have occurred over this past year," Covington said.

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Right now, New Jersey parents can request their child be retained, but it's a collaborative decision with the school district. Under a proposed new law, parents would have until June 1 to determine if their child should repeat their current grade.

State Sen. Shirley Turner said it's about equity, adding many students in urban areas didn't have a parent guiding them and some didn't even have internet access.

"Those are primarily the students who are having the greatest amount of loss, not just academically, but socially, emotionally, as well as physically," Turner said.


However, Patricia Wright, the executive director of the New Jersey Principals and Supervisors Association, said research shows retention hurts more than it helps.

"What we need to do is provide these tiered intervention systems throughout the year the extended learning in the summer, and that I think people need to give the students a chance," Wright said.

She said try to think about it from a child's perspective. It could be tough to be with a new set of peers, adding, "We don't want students to feel like they failed in any way."

Others voiced opposition because of the potential costs of educating children for an unexpected additional year.

The bill passed the Senate Education Committee. Next, it needs to be voted on by the full Senate and then passed on to the Assembly and then Gov. Phil Murphy's desk.

CBS2's Meg Baker contributed to this report

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