ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10)- Although many of the same themes were discussed like the need for greater broadband access to provide quality remote education in the Region Three Reopening Schools Regional Task Force meeting. There was more emphasis on the need for anti-racism and anti-bias education for school districts, a vastly different tone from the Region Two meeting on June 17.
As with the Region Two meeting, opening statements were made by the Board of Regents Chancellor Betty Rosa and Interim Commissioner Shannon Tahoe. There were also two presentations that focused on the social-emotional needs of children and an infectious disease expert.
Center to Improve Social and Emotional Learning and School Safety Director, Natalie Walrond, spoke about the social-emotional needs of children struggling with COVID-19 and increased racial tension. SUNY Downstate Health Sciences University Distinguished Professor, Dr. Jack DeHovitz, discussed the science of COVID-19 including signs/symptoms, how it’s transmitted, and its origin.
Capital Region areas in Region Three
In the second half of the meeting, made available to the public, Ninth Judicial District Regent, Frances G. Wills, spoke not only about the challenges families and students faced with remote learning but also the upcoming challenges of rooting out systemic racism in the school system.
“We have heard from parents filled with desperate frustration and sadness who have been trying to teach and support their children with disabilities without in-person interventions. We’ve heard from students who seek a changed history curriculum that deepens understanding of the role that slavery has made in our history while highlighting the Black heroes and scholars in every field of the arts and sciences. Giants who arose in spite of oppression,” said Wills.
“As we problem solve today, we understand as a first principle that opening schools depend upon adherence to health and safety guidelines to protect staff and students. However, we cannot ignore the world of hurt and history that surrounds us,” Wills said. “With this awakening as our background every decision, we make as partners and planning to return to school must be a step in dismantling systemic racism- examining our curriculum, policies, and procedures to ensure that what we do will not compound but will break through the barriers and bigger opportunities to flourish for all children.”
Communication between school districts, families, and students as well as communication between the state and school districts also took more of a forefront in the meeting than in the Region Two meeting. Many of the break-out group briefings discussed ways of communicating better with families/students, programs such as BOCES, the Office of Child and Family Services, and CTE (Career and Technical Education).