State Ed officials seek $19.9M from feds

Grant would help fund blended/remote instruction effort

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A $19.9 million federal grant to provide educators with tools, resources and training for blended/remote instruction when needed once school buildings reopen from COVID-19 closures is being sought by the state Education Department.

As the state continues to develop guidance to help safely reopen schools, “it is possible that educators may need to use blended/remote learning strategies at various points during the school year to ensure continuity of learning,” the Education Department said Monday.

The state has applied to the U.S. Department of Education requesting $19.9 million in the Rethink K-12 Education Models grant competition to develop and launch the Teaching in Blended/Remote Learning Environments (TRLE) program. It would “address the immediate and urgent learning needs of New York’s most vulnerable students and their parents during the COVID-19 pandemic by providing educators with the tools, resources, and training to facilitate blended/remote instruction when needed,” the announcement said.

“While nothing can replace the importance of face-to-face instruction, with these funds, we hope to effectively implement blended instructional approaches that meet the needs of all children,” said state Board of Regents Chancellor Betty A. Rosa.

The TRLE program would “serve 1.9 million of New York’s most vulnerable students, engage over 190,000 educators and
provide over 450,000 hours of wraparound services and
support to build the capacity of teachers and educational leaders to effectively implement blended/remote learning,” the State Education Department announcement said.

State guidance documents on reopening of schools will be presented for discussion at the Regents’ July 13 meeting.

Rome school district Superintendent Peter C. Blake, who participated in a recent state regional task force meeting on school reopenings, said afterward he anticipates a reopening this fall to some extent but further remote virtual instruction cannot be ruled out.

School buildings closed in mid-March, and instructional efforts continued on a remote basis for the rest of the just-finished 2019-20 year.

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