New York education officials on Monday began the formalized process of seeking a waiver for forgoing state testing in schools due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The State Education Department announced two federal waiver requests are now open for public comment through Feb. 5. The move comes as the pandemic has kept some students from in-classroom instruction and learning remotely, either by request of their guardians or due to spiking cases in New York. 

“Throughout the pandemic the Board’s priority has been the physical and mental health, safety, and well-being of the children and adults in our schools,” said Board of Regents Chancellor Lester W. Young, Jr.  “In light of the ongoing pandemic, we have determined that the Spring 2021 state assessments cannot be safely, equitably and fairly administered to students in schools across the state and, therefore, are seeking these waivers.”

The state is seeking two waivers from the federal government. One of the requests seeks to waive elementary, middle and school level assessments. It would also allow education officials to administer the New York State English as a Second Language Achievement Test only to those learners who are able to attend school in person for at least some days of the week. 

The second request would end requirements for identifying schools for improvement in fall 2021 based on 2020-21 school year results.