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Preventing ill, injured kids from falling behind at school is vital

When many of us who are now adults were kids, we’d view any chance to miss school as a bonus — even if that meant having to deal with an illness.

And even though many of us would enjoy catching daytime TV staples like “The Price Is Right” when home from school, often times a teacher would send home any assignments we missed out on with a sibling or neighbor so we wouldn’t fall too far behind our classmates.

That seems to work fine for kids who only need to miss a handful of days or less due to something like a cold, the flu or chicken pox. But what happens when a child is stricken with something more serious — something that forces him or her to be away from school for a long period of time?

We don’t think that student should be “punished” for missing a lot of classroom instruction due to something outside his or her control.

And neither do our state’s lawmakers or governor.

Gov. Tom Wolf signed a bill last week after it passed the state legislature unanimously, which offers aid to school districts to pay for accommodations for students who are homebound while recovering from a serious injury or illness.

Under the law, the state’s Department of Education must write program guidelines and award up to $300,000 a year in grants to intermediate units that apply.

The grants could be used to buy equipment that helps students participate in real time with classroom activity through a video link. The sponsor, state Sen. Scott Martin, R-Lancaster, says the equipment resembles an iPad mounted on a Segway unit and will help students keep up with classmates while dealing with a serious illness or injury.

Young learners are asked to absorb more information at a faster pace than ever before, which makes regular school attendance more important than it has ever been. And if the student is otherwise able to learn, but for whatever reason cannot safely get to or attend school, then providing an alternative method to keep his or her learning on schedule makes all the sense in the world.

By putting student interests first, our lawmakers and governor deserve an “A” for a job well done.

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