The COVID-19 pandemic is having a profound effect on all of our lives and is challenging us in unprecedented ways. The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) are working tirelessly to serve New York’s students and adults to the best of our ability during this time. NYSED staff continue to provide crucial services for students, P-12 schools, colleges and universities, professional licensees, adult education programs, cultural institutions, and the people of New York State. At this week’s Board of Regents meeting, I gave a comprehensive update on NYSED’s response to the COVID-19 situation.
This week, NYSED announced the cancellation of the June 2020 administration of Regents Exams and released guidance on modifications to requirements for students to graduate and earn their high school diplomas, credentials, and endorsements. Every day, we see more and more examples of the tireless dedication of parents, educators, and administrators to support their students as they continue to learn and work toward a meaningful diploma during the state of emergency, and we are grateful to them for their efforts. During this time of great uncertainty, NYSED has developed this guidance to ensure that students who were on track to graduate this year will have that opportunity.
In addition, due to the school closures related to COVID-19, NYSED delayed the rollout of state assessments aligned to the grades 3-8 Next Generation Learning Standards for English Language Arts (ELA) and Mathematics for one year, to spring 2022. Similarly, the alignment of state assessments to the New York P-12 Science Learning Standards will begin in spring 2023.
In March, NYSED made the unprecedented decision to suspend administration of the Grades 3-8 ELA and Math assessments for the remainder of this school year, due to the statewide closure of schools related to COVID-19. At the time of this decision, the state assessments were prepared and ready to be administered. To make use of these assessments that were developed by New York State educators and due to the delay in the timeline for assessments based on the Next Generation Learning Standards, the state extended its current Grades 3-8 ELA and Math Testing contract by one year.
Also this week, the Board of Regents adopted emergency regulations to ease the burdens and provide important flexibility for educators, students, professionals, and others to address interruptions in the wake of COVID-19. At a time when we as New Yorkers are coming together in our efforts to safely endure this pandemic, it’s important that we look for ways to ease hardships this situation may be causing on those around us. These regulatory amendments make the changes necessary to allow our schools, institutions of higher education, and professionals to continue to operate effectively during this public health crisis. You can find a summary of the regulatory amendments here.
As I mentioned in my last letter, educators across the state are working hard to ensure continuity of learning for students during the extended statewide school closure. To help with this effort, we have launched a website featuring continuity of learning resources. We recently added dozens of new resources to the website and will continue to update and add resources as they become available. If you’re looking for resources to use at home with your children, you can check out the Continuity of Learning website here.
In addition, PBS educational programming is available to K-12 students every weekday on-air to help ensure that all students have access to quality educational resources regardless of whether they have a computer or broadband at home. Parents and educators should check local listings for their local public television stations for additional information on schedules and channel lineup. You can find your local PBS station by using the PBS Station Finder.
We continue to share daily ideas for high-quality resources, guidance, tips, and activities that can all be used to promote learning at home as part of our #NYLearnsRemotely campaign on social media. One resource we are particularly excited about is the new series of Virtual Field Trips being offered by the New York State Museum every Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday at 1:00 p.m. (EDT). Museum educators, scientists, and historians are providing behind the scenes virtual tours of some of the Museum’s exhibits and collections to highlight cool finds and facts from New York State! You can experience these virtual field trips live on the Museum’s Facebook page or watch them on the Museum’s YouTube channel any time.
In addition to our #NYLearnsRemotely social media campaign, we have launched another campaign called #EducatorsAreHeroes to raise awareness of the incredible efforts of New York’s extraordinary, dedicated educators. If you would like to share an inspiring story about educators going the extra mile for students at this time, please tag us on Twitter or Facebook along with the hashtag #EducatorsAreHeroes. We are also currently honoring licensed health professionals and volunteers on social media using the hashtag #HeroesOfCOVID19, and we encourage you to share pictures recognizing your favorite hero as well.
Finally, I want to extend a heartfelt thank you to you as parents for all of your work keeping students on track and learning during this difficult time. I am sure that the abrupt and monumental shift to at-home learning has at times been both challenging and stressful. As adults, it is so important that we maintain our own mental health so we are best equipped to meet our children’s needs. You can refer to these resources to help manage anxiety and talk about the pandemic with your children.
Please continue to check our dedicated COVID-19 web page, visit our news page, and follow us on social media for the latest updates. I hope you and your families are staying safe and healthy during this uncertain time.
Courtesy of New York State Education Department, Accessed via email April 10, 2020