Lawmaker: Parents should decide to hold back child because of ‘COVID slide’

A state lawmaker wants to give parents the power to decide whether their kids should be held back a year.

"The reason why I brought the bill is because of the COVID slide," said Sen. Lori Berman of South Florida.

Students are struggling to keep up in school with major changes in education due to the pandemic.

Sen. Berman says she wants parents to have the option to hold their kids back. Right now, school officials have the final say.

"I feel that the parent knows the child – they know if their child will succeed if they’re pushed forward or they know their child will fail and fall further behind," Berman said.

Her bill applies to kids in grades K-8. Parents would have until June 30 to put the request in with the school, and it would automatically be granted.

"We’ve seen children who have struggled in math and reading and we need to catch them up and get them on grade level," said Orange County Public Schools spokesman Scott Howat.

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Howat says around 43% of students are learning at home and some have fallen behind.  

"We’re doing everything we can including spring break camps, extended summers, additional tutoring on Saturdays... Saturday school. Whatever we can do to get our children on grade level," he explained.

The district also reaching out to families of students who aren’t making the grade – encouraging them to return to face to face learning. Howat says being held back should be the last resort.

Senator Berman agrees.

"This is really just for those students are truly, truly having a tough time with the COVID learning situation right now," Berman said.

In the bill, parents would only be able to apply for their kids to repeat a grade for the 21-22 school year.

Part of the reason it doesn’t include high schoolers is Berman says doesn’t want people repeating a grade for sports eligibility or missing out on big events like senior prom.

Tune in to FOX 35 Orlando for the latest news.