More than 100 education and advocacy groups wrote a letter to the New York State Education Department asking that students that would normally age out of high school, be allowed to return in the fall.

“There are students throughout the state who are living in homeless shelters and families that are in small apartments that may not have the space that they need to sit in front of a computer or a quiet place to study,” Ashley Grant, a Supervising Attorney at Advocates for Children of New York explained. 

Students that need extra time in high school often are overcoming larger life obstacles such as immigrants who are learning English while taking classes, foster care students, students that dropped out to help support their families and at times students with disabilities. 

Now with the pandemic, some of these students that needed more hands on learning are not receiving it or are unable to access remote learning, threatening their ability of graduating this spring. 

“Students who are overage in high school are disproportionately Black, Brown, and low-income and are more likely to be losing jobs, losing loved ones, and losing learning amidst the pandemic,” said Michael Rothman, the executive director of Eskolta School Research and Design, a nonprofit that partners with New York City Department of Education programs serving overage and under-credited students. “To tell these students that they will not graduate because they hit the age limit in the midst of this difficult this time would only add to this inequity.”

Only around 5% of students need more than four years of high school, but some are turning 21 this summer, which will make them ineligible to attend high school in fall. 

“What we’re asking is that all high school students have the right to return next year including students who because of their age, many have aged out in June,” Grant continued. 

Around 2,700 students last year in New York graduated in their sixth year.