images of parents with their children
August 28, 2020
Dear Parents,

As summer draws to a close and we look to the upcoming school year, we are all focused on ensuring that students are supported academically and emotionally in the wake of COVID-19. We continue to see the widespread effects and unique challenges presented by this pandemic, and the Board of Regents and NYSED recognize that funding is necessary to help meet the vast array of additional needs brought about by this catastrophe. I have no doubt that parents, educators, and school communities will do all they can to meet the safety, educational, and emotional needs of our students, and I want you to know that we continue to advocate for the federal assistance that New York State needs to recover, rebuild, and renew the spirit of our schools.

We are about to embark on an unprecedented school year. I recognize that your role as parents in your children's education has changed significantly in the last year. I know you worked extremely hard to keep your children engaged in education during school closures in the spring and that you are bracing for the challenges of the upcoming school year, whether your children will return to school in person, engage in remote learning, or participate in some combination of the two.

NYSED is doing everything in its power to assist schools in a safe and orderly reopening in September. The guidance on reopening New York State schools, recently issued by NYSED, focuses on important considerations and strategies for attending to social emotional wellness and addressing the educational needs of at-risk students, including students with disabilities and English language learners. It also includes: mandatory teaching and learning requirements ensuring clear opportunities for equitable instruction for all students; continuity of learning regardless of the instructional model used; providing standards-based instruction; and substantive daily interaction between teachers and students.

We are proceeding with the understanding that our planning for schools to reopen is not a one-time event. As the start of the school year grows nearer and then gets underway, NYSED will be mindful of the many uncertainties faced statewide. We will continuously monitor the situation and provide updated guidance, policies, and regulatory changes as the situation requires.

As we all continue to look for new ways to engage students in learning amidst this pandemic, the New York State Museum's Portal to Online Educational Resources & Activities provides options for parents and educators alike, whether at home or in the classroom. The Portal brings together many of the State Museum's resources, including links to the popular virtual "field trips," digital collections, online resources, and many fun activities for kids derived from the Museum's research and collections.

The Portal resources and activities are updated often to provide new resources and direct access to online content. Throughout the school year, educational resources will be added, including online lessons, content-created publications, and virtual activities. These resources will support the work of educators, engage students in the research and collections of the Museum, and connect the real-world work of scientists and historians with the NYS Learning Standards.

The Portal provides the following opportunities for parents, educators, and students looking for engaging and educational activities that can be done from home:

360 Degree Virtual Field Trips
  • The Rotunda Murals - Learn more about the 36 paintings, created by Albany artist Will Hicok Low, that complement the State Education Building Rotunda's architectural nobility and its aura of intellectual enlightenment. Museum Educator, Carly Benedict, leads this tour of the beauty and meaning of these groundbreaking murals.
  • The Replica Liberty Bell - Gifted by President Harry Truman in 1950, New York State's "Liberty Bell" is an exact replica of the original Liberty Bell located in Philadelphia. Museum Educator, Anna Doren, showcases the history behind the creation of this replica and how it came to be a featured element at the New York State Education Building.
  • Regents Room of the State Education Building - Located inside the NYS Education Building, this elaborately decorated room is the meeting place for the Board of Regents. Join Museum Educator, Ben Russell, as he highlights the room's design and the history of the Board of Regents.
  • The Rotunda at the State Education Building - Explore the NYS Education Building where Museum Educator, Carl Morrone, highlights the building's history and unique architectural elements. Designed by renowned architect and New York City native Henry Hornbostel, the Education Building was the first major building constructed in the United States solely as a headquarters for the administration of education.
Educational Resources
  • Women's Suffrage Commemoration Resources - "Votes for Women: Celebrating New York's Suffrage Centennial" honors the centennial of women's suffrage in New York State and raises awareness of the struggle for equal rights up through the present day.
  • Women of Science Programming - This August, we are taking our popular Women of Science program online! During several virtual sessions, you will be able to learn from female scientists and staff about their area of study, collections, and career paths.
  • Fun Activities - Videos and downloadable activities for fun at home. Families can "color the collections" with coloring sheets inspired by exhibits and artifacts from the Museum's collections or watch a video from the Museum's education department about topics inspired by the Museum and then make a craft activity at home.
  • Teacher Guides & Activities for Students - The New York State Museum offers educational opportunities for learners of all ages and abilities. Through online educational resources, children, families, educators, and students can experience the art, science, and history of New York State in a fun and engaging way. The Museum's Teacher Guides meet New York State Learning Standards.
  • Videos - Learn about the research and collections of the New York State Museum through videos from scientists, historians, and educators.
These resources and more can all be found in one place on the NYS Museum's Portal to Online Educational Resources & Activities.

I appreciate all you do to support your children, schools, and communities. Please visit our COVID-19 web page, our news page, and our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn) frequently for all the latest updates.

Thank you.


Betty A. Rosa
Interim Commissioner