November 30, 2020
Dear Parents,

As we enter the holiday season, this year will no doubt look a little different than years past. Many traditions that we have held sacred over the years may be altered or go uncelebrated as we continue to adjust to living through a pandemic. Despite everything we have confronted, there is still much to celebrate, including the parents, educators, and school communities across New York State that have come together to support our children.

New York State educators continue to demonstrate their extraordinary dedication and commitment to their students. As we did in the spring, the New York State Education Department (NYSED) is once again highlighting exceptional efforts of our educators to stay connected with students during the pandemic. You can visit our Staying Connected web page to see some of the stories. In addition to posting the stories on our website, we are spotlighting the stories with the hashtag #StayingConnected on our social media channels (Twitter, Facebook, and LinkedIn). You can also sign up for our Staying Connected newsletter to have the stories delivered right to your inbox.

I also want to recognize you, the parents who are going above and beyond to keep your children engaged in education while also balancing many other priorities. The parent-school connection is a key component of school and student success. I encourage you to continue to be involved in your child's school, this year more than ever. As I mentioned in my last letter, NYSED recently launched a Parent Dashboard to increase transparency and make information about school performance and other school-level data easier for parents and the public to access.

To guide further enhancements to the Parent Dashboard, NYSED is gathering feedback from parents and stakeholders. We invite you to explore the Parent Dashboard and complete this five-minute survey to tell us how we can make the dashboard as useful as possible. If you have any questions, please don't hesitate to reach out to our Data Help Center.

Finally, I would like to mention a few engaging projects and opportunities that you might consider for your children:

National Cyber Scholarship Program
The National Cyber Scholarship program gives students the opportunity to compete for millions of dollars in college scholarships to support cybersecurity training. Every high school student in America can register for free access to CyberStart America. The 2021 Competition will take place fully online April 5-6, 2021. To learn more and to register, visit the CyberStart America website.

NYS K-12 Kids Safe Online Poster Contest
The New York State Office of Information Technology Services NYS K-12 Kids Safe Online Poster Contest is open to all students in New York State. This is a great opportunity to talk to your children about being safe while on the Internet and while using computers and mobile devices. The contest has five entry categories: Kindergarten-Grade 2, Grades 3-5, Grades 6-8, Grades 9-12, and Special Education. Entries must be received by December 18, 2020.

National Youth Science Camp
Applications are now being accepted from high school seniors in the class of 2021 to represent New York State at the 2021 National Youth Science Camp (NYSCamp). Two students from each state, Washington, D.C, and 8 countries will attend the all-expenses-paid virtual program this summer.

The National Youth Science Camp is a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) opportunity. The camp will provide daily lectures and seminars with leading scientists, directed studies alongside visiting and resident STEM professionals, and engaging outdoor activities.

Applications must be submitted online at the National Youth Science Camp website by February 28, 2021. For more information about the program, please visit the National Youth Science Foundation website and the National Youth Science Camp website.

Please continue to spread kindness, give with a generous and compassionate heart, and take care of yourselves and your children. Stay well and stay healthy.


Betty A. Rosa
Interim Commissioner