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Governor signs 'bridge year' bill that will aid NJ high school students impacted by COVID-19

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TRENTON — Rising New Jersey seniors and juniors who lost out on academic, extra-curricular or athletic opportunities this spring due to COVID-19 will have a chance for a re-do of sorts as the governor signed a new law allowing them to defer graduation.

The bill, which passed the Legislature on June 18, establishes a three-year “bridge year” pilot program open to high school seniors from the classes of 2021 and 2022.

The students who participate can elect to defer graduation and participate in a “bridge year” immediately following their senior year during which time they would remain enrolled in high school to take certain college level credits and participate in co-curricular activities or athletics, according to the goals of their individual learning plan.

The legislation was introduced in response to the governor’s May 4 announcement that elementary and secondary schools would remain closed for in-person instruction through the remainder of the academic year and that the spring sports seasons were canceled.

In-person instruction and sports, as well as all extracurricular activities, have been suspended since mid-March in response to the COVID-19 outbreak in the state.

According to the legislation, students would pay $145 per credit plus minimal lab fees, and credits would be transferable to any New Jersey public institution and to private or out-of-state schools that choose to accept them. Students pursuing a bridge year may be eligible for the Community College Opportunity Grant Program.

Under the law, students would only be able to play spring sports for the school they attended during junior year and must meet the age participation requirements of the New Jersey State Interscholastic Association. They would have to declare for the bridge year before the beginning of the second semester of their senior year.

Contact: 609-272-7251

CLowe@pressofac.com

Twitter @clairelowe

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