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Opening Schools 2020, Challenges Facing School Leaders

As we prepare for the safe opening of schools in September during this ongoing pandemic, school leaders across New York face unprecedented challenges to quickly digest and implement a great deal of sometimes confusing information provided by the State Education Department and the various departments of health. On Tuesday, August 18, 2020, from 3:00 – 4:30 PM, school administrators from around the state joined a Zoom conference on the Opening Schools 2020 and the Challenges Facing School Leaders hosted by the Empire State School Administrators Association. Mike Starvaggi, ESSAA Executive Director, coordinated the panel discussion and facilitated a wide variety of essential questions regarding proposed reopening plans, personal liability, APPR, building schedules, synchronous and asynchronous instruction, student assessments, contact tracing, and programs for students with disabilities. The panel included Dr. Kim Wilkins, NYSED Deputy Commissioner for Instructional Support, Carol Conklin-Spillane, ESSAA President, and Robert Saperstein, ESSAA Senior Counsel. The group provided solid insight based on the NYSED School Reopening Guidance and common-sense suggestions for developing and providing safe in-person, virtual, and hybrid learning experiences for students and staff.


Special thanks to Dr. Kim Wilkins, NYSED Deputy Commissioner for Instructional Support, for taking the time from her busy schedule to join us. Many thanks to Carol Conklin-Spillane, Mike Starvaggi, and Bob Saperstein for all their efforts to bring this conference to our members.


Based on the volume of participation and the overwhelmingly positive evaluation comments received, we hope to produce similar virtual events in the future.


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