Education department drops 145 pages of guidelines for school reopening; Pelham district plan due July 31

The New York State Department of Education has given the Pelham Union Free School District and all other state school systems a serious summer term-paper assignment: Read 145 pages of guidelines issued Thursday for opening schools and turn in a plan for each district in 16 days, by July 31.

“On Monday, the Department presented a comprehensive framework of guidance for safely educating students this fall,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa in a press release.  “The guidance disseminated to schools today accounts for the health and safety of our children, teachers and school personnel while encouraging equitable access to the services and resources necessary for a high-quality education.”

“Working with students, parents, educators and stakeholders, the Board of Regents and the department have developed a guidance document that will help schools as they prepare their respective reopening plans,” said Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe.  “The guidance encourages community involvement and allows for flexibility so that districts and schools in every corner of the state can assess their unique situation and develop a plan that best meets the needs of their students.”

The department called its guidance document “student-centered, with equity and local flexibility at its core. Additionally, the guidance stresses the need for regular and frequent communication between districts and parents and the critical importance of parental involvement and family engagement. Finally, the document reminds schools and districts that they must always work to create and foster culturally responsive, student-centered learning environments that affirm racial, linguistic and cultural identities; prepare students for rigor and independent learning; develop students’ abilities to connect across lines of difference; elevate historically marginalized voices; and empower students as agents of social change.”

Areas covered by the guidelines include:

  • Health and safety
  • Facilities
  • Nutrition
  • Transportation
  • Social-emotional well-being
  • School schedules
  • Fiscal policies
  • Attendance and chronic absenteeism
  • Technology and connectivity
  • Teaching and learning
  • Special education
  • Bilingual education and world languages
  • Staffing and human resources

“By July 31, all districts and schools are required to create and provide to the department reopening plans at the school level, pursuant to the directions in the guidance,” the release said.