The IASA COVID-19 Swat Team met this morning to continue our work supporting superintendents across the state. Our focus remains on emerging issues in the field and what needs to happen next to make sure our support is ready. Meanwhile, I would encourage superintendents to be thinking about several concepts:
- How your district is part of a fight against the spread of COVID-19.
- How your district is a local economic stimulus package that keeps people involved and paid.
- What is your role as a community/county center in rural parts of the state?
With that, I encourage you to continue to be flexible with conventional thinking. While nice to maintain, it is not likely to apply across the next 2 months. Lastly, I want to note the leadership being exhibited by superintendents, their teams and school communities is overwhelming. Thank you for being a visible leader during this crisis and stepping up to serve students.
Communications updates in the toolkit
- Communications is still key for every district. We plan to add a letter for a school district when their community or county receives their first COVID-19 positive test.
- We are also going to be adding more sample school district websites to assist districts in consistent communication to the public.
- We will also be developing a communications piece that assists those school districts that are starting to sense the local need to transition from an “educational” mission to one that is more centered around community support, health testing, feeding center - potentially in coordination with the Red Cross.
- We will be adding guidance on how schools could be a resource in directing people to locate and obtain testing that you can share on: Who qualifies for a COVID-19 test? And: How do you access a COVID-19 test?
- Also, NSPRA has a communications package they have assembled and it will be added to the toolkit.
Recommendations to Executive and Legislative authorities
- We need to obtain clarity on the designation of type of day we are experiencing in schools and what activities can be conducted based on the definition of the designation. One possibility would be to create a new calendar, call it something different and outline the expectations for staff and students.
- We have some situations that need relief around mandates of testing, child find, etc.
- We have a subcommittee focused on resolving the special education questions that are unanswered so far.
- We are going to work to try to obtain an Executive Order to address as much of this as possible, while obviously, the federal issues require federal action – we have reached out to AASA for help here.
- A decision on a longer school closure should be made sooner rather than later so that preparation for everyone can be conducted. We will be communicating with the Governor’s office with that specific request.
- We need clarification of a school district’s role during a quarantine or order to shelter in place as it relates to potential health testing sites, feeding centers, definition of essential staff, and safety shelters.
What’s this going to look like on April 1 or May 1? Start thinking about adapting your education approach. We will be uploading some options into the toolkit for you to consider.
We are very appreciative of the herculean effort that our superintendents are making across the state. While I know that you are simply responding when your community needs you the most and certainly not looking for praise, it is being noticed far and wide. It’s the people on the front lines that win the wars — and we’re fighting on the front lines. Please continue to document this pandemic using the hashtag #ilschoolsstepup. It will create a timeline and keep hope alive, which is always important when dealing with a mass crisis.