English Language Learners, Middle-Level Education, Early Childhood Education
May 21, 2020

Fact Sheet 20-14: Provision of Services to English Language Learners During Statewide School Closures Due to COVID-19

Source: NYSUT Research and Educational Services
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The outbreak of COVID-19 and the statewide school closures have had a profound effect on instruction, assessment and the delivery of services to English Language Learners/ Multilingual Learners (ELLs/MLLs). On April 7, 2020, the Board of Regents acted on a series of emergency regulations to provide critically needed flexibility to ease the burden on educators and students in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part 154-2.3 of the Commissioner’s Regulations were amended to exclude any day(s) where a school is closed pursuant to an Executive Order of the Governor when counting toward the following timelines

  • English language learner identification process timeline;
  • parental notification and information timeline; and
  • the English as a New Language/Bilingual Education placement timeline.

The amendments also provided an exemption to students from the unit of study requirements where a student is unable to meet such requirements due to schools being closed pursuant to an Executive Order but otherwise achieves the learning outcomes. Additionally, the amendments provided that for the 2019-2020 school year, there would be no English language learner annual assessment (NYSESLAT) due to such assessment being suspended as a result of the COVID-19 crisis.

On May 13, 2020, SED released the Provision of Services to English Language Learners and World Languages Students During Statewide School Closures Due to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Outbreak in New York State memo and FAQ Guidance document in response for the need for flexibility while still remaining accountable to the C.R. Part 154 regulations for the delivery of educational services to all identified ELLs/MLLs, students with potential language acquisition needs engaged in the ELL identification process prior to the school closures, and student who have not yet been formally identified as ELLs but who may benefit from such support. The document serves as a reminder that all ELLs are entitled to an academically rigorous education in all content areas and that school districts must work to eliminate barriers, long-standing inequities, disparities in staffing and unequal access to resources and technology, particularly those needed for successful remote learning. This Q&A will be updated as needed.

This Fact Sheet has been organized in a chart format to present a side-by-side comparison of the original regulations with the related emergency regulatory changes that provide flexibility. These temporary provisions are in effect during COVID-19-related school closures.

NYSUT staff can assist in addressing questions and issues related to these State requirements. Please contact Susan Lafond at 800-342-9810 or Susan.Lafond@nysut.org if you need assistance or to suggest additional resources that NYSUT should develop to support educators’ efforts in implementing these requirements.

Resources on English Language Learners and COVID-19



  • NYSUT’s Education and Learning Trust (ELT) offers graduate courses, online seminars, and in-person/virtual seminars for CTLE requirements on a number of topics related to ELLs including trauma-informed schools, advocacy, equitable assessment, co-teaching, family engagement, working with SIFE students and Newcomer ELLs, and collaborative identification of ELLs with a disability. https://elt.nysut.org/professional-learning/enl-seminars


  • Colorín Colorado, an educational service of WETA with major funding from the American Federation of Teacher and the National Education Association offers a wealth of web-based bilingual, research-based information, activities, and advice for educators and families of English language learners. https://www.colorincolorado.org/coronavirus-ell


  • U.S. Department of Education has a website dedicated to COVID-19 Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel. They offer several Fact Sheets addressing the needs of English Learners, including providing services to ELs and serving migratory children and children with disabilities during the COVID-19 national emergency. https://www.ed.gov/coronavirus


  • The Regional Bilingual Education Resource Networks (RBERN) provide professional learning and technical assistance to educators in New York State and are funded through grants from NYSED's Office of Bilingual Education and World Languages (OBEWL). More information about RBERNs and a current directory is on the NYSED website: http://www.nysed.gov/bilingual-ed/schools/regional-supportrberns


Download complete Fact Sheet (including chart of regulations, provisions, & recommendations)



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