Statement from Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe on Decision to Reopen Schools
“The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented crisis, impacting New York’s students physically, emotionally and psychologically. Indeed, this has been one of, if not the most, challenging periods for education in our history. New York’s educators have heroically risen to the occasion, dedicating themselves to ensuring that students continued to learn as they also provided the level of care and compassion that our students need on a social-emotional level.
“Districts and schools are now putting their reopening procedures into action, planning for teaching and learning whether that will be in-person, remote or a combination of both. The health crisis of COVID-19 has shined an even brighter spotlight on the crisis of the “digital divide” — the lack of equitable access that disproportionately affects low income, minority, and rural populations both nationally and within New York. We cannot even begin to bridge this divide and address the critical safety, educational and emotional concerns that COVID-19 has exacerbated without the Governor, Legislature and State Education Department coming together to find real solutions and funding to provide equity for all our students.
“We must find a common way forward if we hope to move on safely and appropriately from this catastrophe. That must also include a statewide plan to assist all our districts and schools with purchasing Personal Protective Equipment and technology. The safety of our children and educators must be of utmost priority if we are to continue the monumental improvement that New York State has made in flattening the curve and ensure that we protect that progress.
“NYSED has provided guidance on recovering, rebuilding, and renewing the spirit of New York State Schools and will continue to provide technical assistance on that guidance to our districts and schools. Nothing is more important than the health and safety of our students and educators and we will continue to work together to ensure that our schools have the information and tools to move forward from this crisis, with the best interests of our students always the priority. As we have said all along, the Department of Health is responsible for determining the appropriate health and safety measures districts and schools must take. Districts must continue to engage with their local school communities, including parents and teachers, as well as their local departments of health as needed, regarding their reopening plans.”