The New York State Department of Education is giving students an unexpected Christmas gift. As the Omicron variant reignites concerns about mass gatherings and overwhelmed medical facilities, the state has chosen to cancel the January round of their standardized testing for public school students.
“Given the unpredictable nature of the pandemic, the recent acceleration in COVID-19 infections, and continuing upheaval the virus has caused in schools across the state, this decision is the right one,” stated Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr when announcing the board’s decision on Tuesday.
“New York set a daunting record last week with more COVID-19 cases reported in one day than ever before,” added State Education Commissioner Betty A. Rosa. “Once again, the January Regents Exams cannot be safely, equitably, and fairly administered across the state.” Both representatives stressed the state education department will work to offset the disruption of the normal academic calendar.
Their decision, no doubt popular with most of New York’s student body, has also received support from New York State United Teachers, a union representing more than 600,000 educators working in the empire state.
“Given the unevenness of this school year with the pandemic still ongoing and the acute social-emotional needs of our students, canceling the January Regents exams is the right choice,” read a statement the union shared with the Rockland Times. “We thank Commissioner Rosa, Chancellor Young and the Board of Regents for recognizing that our educators are still assessing their students, preparing them to receive their diplomas and setting them up for success after graduation without this round of state exams”
The NYSED has asked the Board of Regents to adopt emergency regulations which will readjust the standards students must ordinarily meet to graduate. Under the proposed emergency regulations, students who are planning to take one or more Regents Examinations during the January 2022 examination period at the conclusion of a normal class or make-up program will be exempt from the test and still be able to receive a regents’ diploma.
To qualify for that exemption, the student must meet one of three requirements before the end of the 2021-2022 school year. Students can either, be enrolled in a course that would ordinarily culminate with a January 2022 Regents Examination and earn credit for such course of study; complete a make-up program to earn course credit; or be prepared to take a required Regents Examination to graduate at the end of the first semester.
NYSED is developing additional guidance in the form of an FAQ and will issue that guidance in early January 2022 to address further questions raised by the cancelation. Parents and students are encouraged to visit the Department’s COVID-19 Information site for additional guidance as it becomes available.