New York state will team up with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation to "reimagine education" by using innovative technology in the wake of the disruption of in-person schooling by the coronavirus pandemic, Governor Andrew Cuomo has said.
New York, the worst-hit US state, has over 321,190 confirmed coronavirus cases and more than 25,000 deaths. The US has recorded more than 71,000 fatalities and over 12 lakh COVID-19 cases - both highest in the world.
Schools and colleges across New York will remain closed for the remainder of the academic year. As New York begins to develop plans to reopen schools and colleges around September for the new academic session, the state and the Gates Foundation will consider what education should look like in the future.
"It's not about just reopening schools. When we reopen schools, let's open a better school and let's open a smarter education system," Cuomo said at his daily coronavirus briefing on Tuesday.
He said the state will be working with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation on this project.
"The last few months have been an incredibly stressful time full of change, but we have to learn and grow from this situation and make sure we build our systems back better than they were before," Cuomo said.
"One of the areas we can really learn from is education because the old model of our education system where everyone sits in a classroom is not going to work in the new normal. When we do reopen our schools let's reimagine them for the future," he said.
The Governor said through the collaboration with the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the state will explore "smart, innovative education alternatives using all the new technology we have at our disposal".
"Bill Gates in a visionary in many ways and his ideas and thoughts on technology and education, he's spoken about it for years, but I think we now have a moment in history where we can actually incorporate and advance those ideas, Cuomo said.
The collaboration will look at how technology can be used to provide more opportunities to students no matter where they are, how shared education can be provided among schools and colleges using technology, how technology can reduce educational inequality, including English as a new language students.
The project will also look at using technology to meet educational needs of students with disabilities, providing educators more tools to use technology and given ongoing socially distancing rules, how can classroom technology can be deployed, like immersive cloud virtual classrooms learning, to recreate larger class or lecture hall environments in different locations.
The state will bring together a group of leaders to answer these questions in collaboration with the Gates Foundation, who will support New York State by helping bring together national and international experts, as well as provide expert advice as needed.
Earlier this month, Cuomo had announced that schools and colleges in the state will remain closed for the rest of the academic year due to the COVID-19 pandemic and will continue to provide distance learning to students during that time, a decision that will impact nearly 4.2 million students statewide.
New York state school system includes 700 public school districts, 4,800 schools, 1,800 private schools, 89 State University of New York and City University of New York campuses and 100 private campuses for a total of 4.2 million students.