The state Department of Education released new guidelines to school districts statewide regarding Driving and Traffic Safety Education classes in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic on March 25. The department said students who have completed 75 percent of the required classroom time can finish classes online, and all instruction on the road has been postponed until the summer.
Normally, state Driving and Traffic Safety Education courses require that students receive 24 hours of classroom time and 24 hours of laboratory instruction, including six hours behind the wheel, six hours of observance in the vehicle and 12 hours of additional laboratory instruction. Upon completion, students receive an MV-285 Certificate of Completion of Drivers Education Course.
However, the department said it recognizes the challenges of completing laboratory time during a pandemic. Therefore, the Department of Motor Vehicles has agreed to allow for some flexibility as students complete their driver’s education program.
Only students who have already completed 18 hours of their class time can go forward with the online classes. Those with less than 18 hours completed will have to finish their class time over the summer, although Glen Cove superintendent Dr. Maria Rianna said most students have met the requirements for online classes.
Driving and Traffic Safety Education also mandates that students cannot participate in more than 90 minutes of class and lab time a day. Lab time can also not be completed online. Normally, the class and lab time would be done concurrently. Due to the circumstances, however, students enrolled in driver’s ed. for the Spring 2020 semester may complete their lab time over the summer or fall.
Rianna said the district will comply with the guidelines sent by NYSED, as the choice to follow the guidelines is up to school districts.
“We are adhering to the guidelines that we received,” she said, “but we would not endanger any of our students or anyone in a vulnerable situation by allowing the actual driving time to continue at this point.”
Prior to taking the road test, parents must also confirm that the student has completed 50 hours of supervised driving. With the MV-285 Certificate of Completion of Drivers Education Course and the 50 hours, students can schedule their DMV road tests.
“I am really hoping to make a more informed decision as we go week by week,” Rianna said. “We just really need to look at how quickly we start seeing the curve actually flattened.”