images of parents with their children
June 12, 2020
Dear Parents,

Recent events - nationwide unrest and the COVID-19 pandemic - have brought our societal inequities to the forefront. Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa, the Board of Regents and I join our voices with those mourning the indefensible and tragic death of George Floyd. We must all become engaged participants in civic life and do everything we can to empower our students to be actively involved in our society that depends on cooperation, diversity, inclusion, and unity.

Months of school closures due to COVID-19 have shed light on the inequities in educational opportunities and resources available to our students. The Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) are committed to ensuring that all students succeed and thrive in school no matter who they are, where they live, where they go to school, or where they come from.

Educational equity will continue to be a priority as we consider what the next school year will look like. This week, the New York State Board of Regents and NYSED announced four virtual Regional School Reopening Task Force meetings that will take place this month. Each meeting will include experts and stakeholders from the fields of health and education who will provide their expertise, answer questions, and give feedback to the Board of Regents and NYSED to help guide schools and school districts in the safe reopening of their schools.

The first meeting will be held on Monday, June 15 and will be hosted by Chancellor Rosa, Vice Chancellor Brown, Regent Collins, Mittler and Norwood, and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe. Both the opening session and the closing report out session will be livestreamed and can be accessed on NYSED's home page. Recordings of the meetings will be available on NYSED's website approximately two to three business days after the meetings.

The monumental impact of COVID-19 and the diverse landscape of New York State makes the task of developing a framework to reopen our schools a significant undertaking. The input we receive from task force members at the regional meetings will inform our work as we develop the guidance and regulatory changes that schools need to best support their students.

Also this week, the Board of Regents adopted a third series of emergency regulations that afford essential flexibility for educators, students, and professionals to address issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board adopted the first series of emergency regulations at its April 2020 meeting and the second series of emergency regulations at its May 2020 meeting.

As we continue to see the widespread effect and the unique challenges that the COVID-19 pandemic has presented, NYSED is working to implement regulatory changes so our schools, institutions of higher education, and the professions can quickly adapt to this evolving situation.The collaboration with our stakeholders and partners in every corner of New York has been a testament to their commitment to the students and educators of our state, and I thank them for their continued support. A full summary of the third series of amendments is available in this week's news release.

I am also pleased to share the good news this week that the Board of Regents recognized outstanding New York State students receiving Vice Chancellor Emerita Adelaide L. Sanford, Chancellor Joseph McGovern, Regent Emeritus Emlyn Griffith and Regent Margaret Snow Vander Veer Scholarships as well as New York's 2020 U.S. Presidential Scholars Program finalists. The Regents also honored two educators, the Regent Emeritus Louis E. Yavner Awardee, a teacher honored for contributions to teaching about the Holocaust and human rights, and the 2020 Superintendent of the Year. Find more information about the scholarship and award winners in this week's press release. Congratulations to all the honorees!

I know you have been working extremely hard to keep your children engaged in education over the last few months. If you're looking for more resources to continue helping your children learn at home as we finish out the school year and move into the summer months, you can check out our Continuity of Learning website, PBS educational programming, and the NYS Museum's Online Resources and Activities Portal, which includes its virtual field trips. We also continue to share daily ideas for high-quality resources, guidance, tips, and activities that can all be used for at-home learning as part of our #NYLearnsRemotely and #SummerLearning campaigns on social media.

If you're looking for inspiration, visit our Staying Connected web page for stories about some of the ways that educators and schools have stayed connected with their students and communities during this period of school closures. In addition to posting the stories on our website, we are spotlighting the stories with the hashtags #StayingConnected and #EducatorsAreHeroes on our social media channels ( Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). You can also sign up for our Staying Connected newsletter for weekly stories delivered right to your inbox.

Finally, as I mentioned in my last letter, I know that this has been a challenging time for high school seniors, their families, and their school communities that care about them. I would like to congratulate the members of the Class of 2020 who will now begin the next phase of their lives. I know these seniors have not had the year they planned, but with their hard work and commitment, they remained steadfast in achieving this honor despite the hardships of the last few months.

In addition to last month's Graduate Together national celebration, my congratulatory message to seniors, and these wonderful Class of 2020 stories, the New York State Museum is working to create a digital montage using photos of the Class of 2020 provided by their schools. The montage honoring the Class of 2020 will be projected publicly in the State Museum later this summer.

I appreciate your continued support. Please encourage other parents to sign up for our parent email list so we can all stay connected as we look ahead to the future.


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner