FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Statement From Chancellor Betty A. Rosa, the Board of Regents and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe
“From the very beginning of this pandemic, the focus of the Board of Regents and the Department has been the health and safety of New York’s students, teachers, administrators and school staff. The rhetoric from Washington D.C. calling on schools to be fully open with in-person classes this fall regardless of the status of the COVID-19 pandemic is a callous disregard for human health and safety, and puts the lives of those we have worked tirelessly to protect in jeopardy.
“Any decision on the reopening of school buildings should be made based on the best science, data and guidance available from state and federal health professionals. To completely disregard what we have learned so far about this virus and require schools to open under the threat of losing funding during a time when state, local and school budgets are already facing extreme shortfalls is reckless and plays politics with our children’s futures.
“The coronavirus pandemic has laid bare longstanding, deeply embedded societal inequities. Simply put, COVID has had a disproportionately harmful impact on people of color and those that are economically disadvantaged, in terms of health, employment and the ability to receive a meaningful education. This systemic injustice only strengthens our resolve to ensure educational equity for all students.
“The pandemic has been a painful and traumatic time for so many New Yorkers and regardless of whether schools reopen in the fall, as educators, our focus must go beyond the immediate need of academic services, we must also be able to provide social and emotional resources to enable our children to thrive during these uncertain times.
“Last month, the New York State Board of Regents and NYSED hosted four virtual Regional School Reopening Task Force meetings to gather input needed to develop guidance and regulatory changes that will enable New York’s schools to continue safely educating their students this fall. Each meeting included more than 300 experts and stakeholders from the fields of health and education who provided their expertise. Parents, teachers, school and district leaders, non-instructional staff, school board members, health experts, and other interested parties from every region of the state participated in the meetings and gave feedback to the Board of Regents and NYSED to help guide schools and school districts in the safe reopening of schools.
“We also heard from students from across the state who joined a virtual meeting to offer their unique perspectives about reopening schools. Student voices are critical as we work through the important questions that need to be answered in order to plan for the upcoming school year. By working together with students and other stakeholders, we will ensure that the issues of health, safety, and educational equity always come first.
“The Department will present guidance to the Board of Regents at its next meeting on July 13 after considering feedback from the 4 regional task force meetings.”
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