New York State School Boards Association

Message from the Executive Director

June 20, 2021

Dear Members and Stakeholders,

Now that 70% of New Yorkers aged 18 or older have received the first dose of their COVID-19 vaccination series, the state Department of Health (DOH) has announced that a number of restrictions no longer apply to school commencements and other end-of-year events

Unvaccinated individuals still must wear masks in accordance with federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. But in a memo sent to NYSSBA and other educational organizations, state health officials said that "most" previously announced restrictions affecting graduations and end-of-year ceremonies are now optional for schools.

In outdoor ceremonies and venues with an indoor capacity of 5,000 or fewer, DOH said:
•    There is no limit on the size of social gatherings.
•    School officials have no obligation to conduct health screenings or gather contact information for tracing.
•    Social distancing and state protocols for cleaning and disinfection are now optional.

The memo noted that the state has specific guidance for large-scale indoor events, which were redefined on Monday by Gov. Andrew Cuomo as events taking place in venues with an indoor capacity of greater than 5,000. (The governor’s office was using a different figure for large-scale indoor events as recently as last Sunday but updated the figure when the governor announced that the state had passed the 70% threshold.)

At these events, fully vaccinated individuals who present proof of vaccination do not have to observe social distancing or wear a mask. Unvaccinated individuals older than four years old (and those with unknown vaccination status) must (1) present proof of a recent negative diagnostic COVID-19 test result and (2) wear a mask. Under these protocols, "social distancing can be reduced or eliminated between tested attendees, allowing venues to reach 100 percent capacity in all sections," according to DOH.

The Department of Health’s Interim Guidance for In-Person Instruction at Pre-K to Grade 12 Schools During the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency (updated on June 7) remains in effect. However, this guidance does not pertain to graduation ceremonies and other end-of-year events, according to DOH.

On Tuesday, the governor issued Executive Order 202.111 to remove capacity limits on indoor gatherings, with the exception of events in large-scale venues.

If your district is hosting an event in which you’ll be requesting proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result, you may want to consider accepting the Excelsior Pass. The Pass is a free, voluntary, and secure way for people to provide proof of a COVID-19 vaccination or a negative test result at any event or venue. Individuals can either print their Pass or store it on their smartphone using the Excelsior Pass Wallet app or their phone’s native wallet.

Using the Excelsior Pass is completely voluntary and provides a digital option for students and visitors who may forget or misplace their CDC card or paper test results. The Pass has been widely adopted and is accepted at large venues including Madison Square Garden and the Barclays Center, as well as smaller venues in communities across the state.

If you’re interested in learning more about the Excelsior Pass, please visit the Excelsior Pass for Organizations FAQs webpage. If your district is interested in learning how to accept the Excelsior Pass as a form of proof for upcoming events, please visit the Excelsior Pass: User Guide for Organizations.

Weekly Updates

Emergency Connectivity Fund Applications Open June 29
The American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) of 2021 established the $7.17 billion Emergency Connectivity Fund (ECF). ECF is a program that will help schools and libraries provide the tools and services their communities need for remote learning during the COVID-19 emergency period. Schools and libraries that are eligible for support under the FCC’s E-Rate program may request and receive support through ECF. Eligible equipment includes Wi-Fi hotspots, modems (including air cards), routers, devices that combine a modem and router, and connected devices (laptop and tablet computers). Schools and libraries can also receive funding for commercially available broadband service that provides a fixed or mobile broadband connection for off-campus use by students, school staff or library patrons.

The initial ECF Program application filing window will open on June 29 and close on August 13. During the application filing window, eligible schools, libraries, and consortia of eligible schools and libraries, can submit requests for funding to purchase eligible equipment and services between July 1, 2021 and June 30, 2022.

Click here for more information on the application process.

Advocacy Update

•    End of Session Highlights
A comprehensive summary of some of the key bills NYSSBA advocated on this legislative session can be found here.  

•    Resolutions Deadline
The deadline to submit proposed resolutions and bylaw amendments is fast approaching. Districts wishing to submit a resolution or bylaw amendment should use the 2021 Resolution Kit as a guide and resource.

All proposed resolutions and bylaw amendments must be received at NYSSBA headquarters by 5pm on Friday, July 16, 2021. Information regarding the submission process and on other key dates, as well as the results of the 2021 Resolutions Survey, is included in the kit. Please consider reviewing this information at your next board meeting.  If you have any questions about the resolutions process, you should also feel free to reach out to NYSSBA staff at any time. If you have questions or need assistance, please contact Danielle Grasso at or 518-783-3734.

•    Congressional Summer Meetings
Work is underway to begin scheduling NYSSBA's annual Congressional Summer meetings. Meeting information and attendance will be sent directly to district Advocacy Liaisons. If your district has not yet appointed a liaison or you would be interested in participating, please contact Danielle Grasso at 518-783-3734 or

Welcome New School Board Members!  Get to Know NYSSBA Complimentary Webinar
Membership in the New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) is open to all public school boards and boards of cooperative educational services (BOCES) in New York.  We are the statewide voice for the interests of public boards of education serving more than 675 local school boards and BOCES, which represent more than 4,600 members – nearly half the elected officials in the state.

NYSSBA provides member boards with skill building and informative education programs, publications and consultant services. We represent the views of our members with education policymakers in Albany and Washington, D.C.  (Our advocacy efforts are directed by the membership through an annual resolutions process.)  NYSSBA also assists members with legal questions, negotiations advice, policy guidance, communications activities, research needs and much more.
Learn more about your association at the Get to Know NYSSBA complimentary webinar.

Date:  July 14, 2021
Time:  Noon – 1:00 p.m.
Register here.

Coming Soon:  NYSSBA’s 2021 Membership Survey
Every three years, NYSSBA surveys its membership to better understand how we can serve you better and make school boards stronger.  We will be emailing the survey invitation to you in August.   Watch for more information in the coming weeks.

New York State Education Department

  • January 2022 Regents Examination in United States History and Government (Framework) Diploma Requirement Exemption "As all United States History and Government coursework is now aligned to the Framework, there will be no Regents Examination in US History and Government for students completing courses in January 2022. Therefore, the Board of Regents approved a change to regulations at its June meeting so that January 2022 Regents Examination in  United  States  History  and  Government(Framework) is not required for certain students to meet diploma requirements."

Happy Father’s Day.

Be well and stay in touch.

Robert S. Schneider CPA, CAE
Executive Director
New York State School Boards Association

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