Dear Colleagues,
I hope the transition into the new school year has been as smooth as possible for you, your students, and your school communities. In case you missed it earlier this month, please take a moment to read my letter and watch my video message welcoming parents, students, and educators back to school. The New York State Education Department (NYSED) is mindful of the many uncertainties that schools are facing statewide as they begin to reopen. We will continuously monitor the situation and provide updated guidance, policies, and regulatory changes as the circumstances require. This will be an unusual and unprecedented school year, and I wish you a positive start as we work together to make it a success.
In this edition of News and Notes, I am pleased to introduce the 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year, Jennifer Wolfe. Ms. Wolfe, a high school social studies teacher at Oceanside High School on Long Island, is a stellar example of an educator who is devoted to teaching and learning in a way that elevates everyone around her. She has led by example throughout her career, and I’m proud to honor her as our Teacher of the Year. Congratulations, Ms. Wolfe!
Below, you can find details on other announcements and resources that we have released over the last month:
totyOceanside UFSD Social Studies Teacher Named 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year

Jennifer Wolfe

Congratulations to Jennifer Wolfe, a high school social studies teacher at Oceanside High School in the Oceanside Union Free School District, the 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year.

This week, Vice Chancellor T. Andrew Brown, Interim State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa, and Regent Roger Tilles presented Ms. Wolfe with a certificate of recognition, the Thomas Sobol Award, and the David Johnson Award.
Ms. Wolfe is a National Board-Certified teacher in Adolescent and Young Adult Social Studies. She also earned the New York State High School Social Studies Teacher of the Year Award, three Fulbright Scholarships including the Fulbright Teacher Exchange at Teesside Preparatory in the United Kingdom, and an honorary doctorate from Union College.
Ms. Wolfe currently teaches 9th grade Pre-Advanced Placement World History and Advanced Placement Human Geography. She is also the Director of the Long Island National Board Network providing leadership and support to teachers working toward the profession’s highest certification.
Ms. Wolfe co-created the Long Island Teacher Leadership Powered by Teach to Lead Conference, bringing together educators to work with national, state, and local leaders on special projects for their districts. From 2015-2018, Wolfe worked as Oceanside’s Improvement Lead on the $95,000 Network to Transform Teaching Grant, awarded to her district from the National Board for Professional Teaching Standards. One of the grant projects was the subject of an article she co-wrote for Learning Forward titled Bridging Silos: Novices Partner with Veteran Teachers on the Path to Board Certification published in August 2016.
In the coming year, Ms. Wolfe will serve as an ambassador for teachers throughout the state and will be the New York State nominee for the National Teacher of the Year.
Finalists for the 2021 New York State Teacher of the Year are as follows:
  • Sara Bambino, an English teacher at Cicero-North Syracuse High School, North Syracuse Central School District;
  • James Brown, a science teacher from Sand Creek Middle School, South Colonie Central School District;
  • Chelsea Dyer, an English teacher at Columbia High School, East Greenbush Central School District; and
  • Victoria Gentile, a Special Education teacher at Fort Salonga Elementary School, Kings Park Central School District.
tierneyCUNY Student Recipient of 2020 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship

Nia Williams

The Board of Regents awarded the 2020 Marge A. Tierney Memorial Scholarship to Nia Williams, of the Bronx, NY. Ms. Williams is a graduate student in the Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling program at Hunter College, The City University of New York (CUNY). She is also enrolled in the master’s degree Disability Studies program at the CUNY School of Professional Studies.

Ms. Williams recently began her graduate coursework in clinical rehabilitation and has more than 10 years of experience working in the rehabilitation field. Her work experiences include coordinating services at the Cerebral Palsy Associations of New York, direct support professional, residential habilitation specialist, and Medicaid service coordinator. Ms. Williams plans to obtain a PhD in Clinical Rehabilitation Counseling, so she can provide support for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
regsBoard of Regents Acts on Fifth Series of Emergency Regulations to Ease Burdens on Educators, Students, and Professionals in the Wake of the COVID-19 Pandemic

Emergency Regulations in Response to COVID-19
This week, the Board of Regents adopted a fifth series of emergency regulations that afford essential flexibility for educators, students, and professionals to address issues due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The Board adopted the first series of emergency regulations at its April 2020 meeting, the second series of emergency regulations at its May 2020 meeting, the third series of emergency regulations at its June 2020 meeting, and the fourth series of emergency regulations at its July 2020 meeting.
webinarsNYSED and State Library Announce Series of Webinars Focused on Digital Equity

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child wearing headphones and using laptop at home

NYSED and the New York State Library, in partnership with the METRO Library Council and the Northern New York Library Network, recently announced a series of webinars on Digital Equity. Intended for educators, librarians, and other stakeholders with an interest in bringing about digital equity, this webinar series attempts to establish a shared understanding of the challenges to digital equity to begin to develop a shared vision of how we can work together to achieve digital equity for all New Yorkers.

  • Sep 24: Digital Bridge K-12 Initiative: Assessing Home Access Needs
  • Oct 1: Affordable Telephone and Internet Resources During the COVID-19 Pandemic
  • Oct 8: Building Community Broadband Networks
  • Oct 22: Using Digital Navigators to Bridge Social Divides
  • Oct 29: Starting Your Own Digital Inclusion Coalition
  • Nov 12: Capitalizing on OER for Equity in PK-12: Finding and Using Open Teaching and Learning Resources
  • Dec 3: Broader than Broadband: Brooklyn Public Library’s Digital Equity Strategy
reopeningSchool Reopening Guidance and Information

school reopening plans map

Visit NYSED’s Reopening Schools web page to access information and resources about school reopening and contact information for sharing questions and feedback. Links to New York State’s public school district, school, and BOCES reopening plans are also available on our School Reopening Plans Map.

guidanceCOVID-19 Guidance and Resources

Coronavirus _COVID-19_ Guidance and Resources

NYSED has developed many comprehensive guidance documents and resources in response to COVID-19. All of the guidance, resources, and announcements are available on our dedicated COVID-19 web page. In addition to providing guidance for P-12 schools, the web page provides links to guidance for colleges and universitiesadult education programs, and licensed professionals.