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Continuity of Learning for English Language Learners

March 25, 2020

Versión en español

Dear ELL Educator,

I greet you with admiration and solidarity.  We are facing an unprecedented time with this health crisis of COVID-19. Our commitment remains to serve and support our students, families, and educators.  This office as a body of the New York State Education Department will continue to represent our English Language Learners with guidance to ensure and promote equity for our community.

We are facing and addressing various scenarios never imagined to ensure the continuity and integrity of learning. I am grateful for the immediate response of our Boards of Cooperative Educational Services (BOCES) and district colleagues for their flexibility and integrity in addressing the needs of all students.

As requested by our State Education Department, all districts and charter schools have accepted the challenge to create policies and procedures to provide access and direct instruction for every learner. These procedures are only the beginning for these difficult times. We are aware that much more needs to be done, and I assure you that we address each aspect daily.

To continue to support our students during this time of distance learning, we are compiling a Resource Collection for educators to reference when developing their lesson plans.  We will continue to add new resources to this list as we collaborate with stakeholders across New York State.  We are having weekly meetings with our ELL Leadership Council and our Regional Bilingual Education Resource Network (RBERN) Executive Directors to discuss evolving needs for the continuing education of our English Language Learners.  I encourage you to visit the RBERN websites (see list below) regularly for additional resources and information. 

In New York State, we are fortunate to have over 260,000 English Language Learners from over 200 language backgrounds.  Our mission at the Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages is to ensure that all New York State students, including English Language Learners, attain the highest level of academic success and language proficiency.  We are continuing to move forward on initiatives that will support this mission.  Please feel free to contact our office directly at with any questions or recommendations you have on how we can address the needs of your students during this difficult time.

The well-being of our children, families and educators are our number one priority.

My thoughts are with you and your families for good health and victory always.

In unity,

Elisa Alvarez

Associate Commissioner


New York State Language RBERN (statewide)

Capital District Region RBERN at Questar III BOCES

Hudson Valley RBERN at SW BOCES

Long Island RBERN at Eastern Suffolk BOCES


Mid-West RBERN at Monroe 2 - Orleans BOCES

New York City RBERN at Fordham University

West Region RBERN at Erie 1 BOCES