images of parents with their children
July 10, 2020
Dear Parents,

We all continue to work hard to execute a responsible, coordinated response to COVID-19. The monumental and unprecedented challenges brought about by the pandemic are like nothing our school communities have ever confronted. Of the innumerable complex problems we have faced over the last several months, perhaps one of the most difficult is the question of how to safely reopen our schools. While we are considering all facets of this issue, it is the priority of the New York State Board of Regents and the New York State Education Department (NYSED) to ensure that health, safety, and educational equity always come first.

With these priorities in mind, the Board of Regents and NYSED are working to develop guidance and regulatory changes that will enable New York's schools to continue safely educating their students this fall. Last month, the Regents and NYSED hosted four virtual Regional School Reopening Task Force meetings and a student forum to gather feedback from our stakeholders. After considering the feedback we received, NYSED will present the framework for school reopening guidance to the Board of Regents at its meeting on Monday, July 13.

Since mid-March, educators across the State have worked around the clock to offer New York's students high-quality learning opportunities, and our school systems adapted rapidly to provide for continuity of learning. Now, we hope to build on those efforts and provide teachers and school leaders with professional learning experiences to help them effectively engage their students in blended/remote learning opportunities. To that end, NYSED recently submitted an application to the U.S. Department of Education for the Rethink K-12 Education Models grant competition to develop and launch the Teaching in Blended/Remote Learning Environments (TRLE) program.

New York's TRLE program would address the immediate and urgent learning needs of New York's most vulnerable students and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing educators with the tools, resources, and training to facilitate blended/remote instruction when needed. NYSED is requesting $19.9 million over a three-year period to implement the TRLE program.

We have also worked with our partners across the state throughout the COVID-19 emergency to ensure access to consistent, healthy meals for all students throughout the school shutdown. Thanks to our work with the USDA, we are able to also fill the gap in the summer months and provide kids with much-needed, nutritious meals and a sense of security for families and communities. The 2020 Summer Food Service Program, which provides free meals to approximately 400,000 students, kicks off this month at nearly 3,000 sites statewide. You can use the interactive USDA online map to find a service site that will provide free meals during the summer for children 18 and younger.

In addition, NYSED and the State Library are partnering with 1,100 public libraries and neighborhood branches statewide to launch the 2020 Summer Reading at New York Libraries program. The free, annual program gives children and their families the opportunity to access the vast resources of New York's public libraries to support summer reading and learning.

Due to COVID-19, virtual services are available so families can safely support reading, learning, and exploring all summer long. You and your children can visit your local public library's website to find out how to sign up for Summer Reading events and activities, then register online to track books and e-books and earn badges and prizes from your local library.

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


Shannon Tahoe
Interim Commissioner