Getting Your Questions Answered & Providing Resources
 Virginia PTA is committed to sharing the most up-to-date information on how to conduct PTA business and distance/virtual learning resources as families are learning and working from home, things have changed in all of our daily lives.

A special committee was appointed by the president, Donna Colombo, to address local unit leaders concerns and needs. The special committee will be addressing your questions and providing 'how-to' resources for local unit operations to be released no later than Wednesday, August 19 and an open forum by the special committee on Saturday, August 22, 10am - 12pm, stay tuned for more information.

Each Friday, you will find valuable information and response to the most asked questions from local leaders. You are able to submit questions to your council, district or directly to VAPTA at communications@vapta.org and it will be forwarded to the special committee or it may be answered immediately based on time sensitivity.

Each week's communication will be uploaded to our website and social media outlets.

VAPTA has provided several resource guideline communications to local units. As new and returning leaders are reconnecting and making plans, please find below links to previously provided information and guidance.
Q: What is the Homeschool and Distance Learning?
A: There has been a lot discussion on how families and students can participate in PTA if they decide to 'homeschool'. First, there is a difference in Homeschooling and Distance Learning.

Homeschooling is educating children in a home environment. Parents can crate their own curriculum, join a homeschool cohort, or purchase educational curriculum guides. It is completely created and cultivated by the parent or caregiver and not sanctioned by local or state entities.

Distance/Virtual Learning is provided by the state. It resembles traditional schools with teachers, principals, and a curriculum set by the school district. Done either completely or in-part online. There are private and public options.
Q: Can we include virtual, temporary homeschool or private-school families in our VAPTA programs?
A: Yes. Students being provided academic services under the definition of Distance/Virtual Learning are eligible to participate in VAPTA programs through a local unit in good standing. Each local unit must decide their process for accepting projects from the students.

Q: Can parents of students who are virtual, temporary homeschool or in private-school become members of PTA? Can they be officers?
A: Yes. VAPTA Local Unit Bylaws Article 5: Membership and Dues. Section 2. Membership in this local PTA/PTSA shall be open, without discrimination, to anyone who believes in and supports the mission and purpose of National PTA. Section 6. Only members of this local PTA/PTSA shall be eligible to vote in the business of this local PTA/PTSA or to serve in any of its elected or appointed positions.

Q: We don't feel comfortable charging our dues this year due to how many of our families have lost their source of income. Can we change our dues for this year? Can we waive dues for this year? Can we provide scholarships to pay for dues?
A: Even in good times, it is difficult for some units to ask parents for membership dues. Each individual local unit sets their own amount of dues.

Local Unit Bylaws Article 5: Membership and Dues. Section 3. This local PTA/PTSA shall conduct an annual enrollment of members but may admit persons to membership at any time.
Section 7. Each member of this local PTA/PTSA shall pay annual dues as may be determined by this association. The amount of such dues shall include the portion payable to Virginia PTA (the "state portion") and the portion payable to National PTA (the "national portion").
Section 8. Each member of a local PTA/PTSA shall pay annual dues to the association as approved by two-thirds (2/3) vote of members present and voting after having been given at least thirty (30) days’ notice. The amount of such annual dues shall include the portions payable to the local unit, Virginia PTA and National PTA.
Section 9. The amount of the Virginia PTA state portion of each member’s dues shall be determined by the Virginia PTA. The Virginia PTA portion of each member’s dues shall be one dollar and fifty cents ($1.50) per annum. The National PTA portion of each member’s dues shall be two dollars and twenty-five cents ($2.25) per annum.

Therefore, local units can elect to temporarily reduce membership dues to as little as $3.75.

PTA is a non-profit, non-partisan national organization. It works on behalf of its members to help unite parents, teachers, and the community for the common good of ALL children. It provides state and national information, influence, and recognition to help members advocate for the health, education, and safety of all children and youth. PTA is known as the “go to” group for parent involvement. And now more than ever, VAPTA has become the 'go to' organization for federal, state and local officials.

PTAs keep parents informed. Involved parents can understand the challenges schools face and become part of the solution. PTAs support education through active participation and advocacy. PTAs benefit everyone. Strong schools mean stronger communities. PTA membership is open to anyone concerned with the education, health, and welfare of children.

Local Units can ask for donations to cover membership dues.

Q: Are there restrictions regarding off-day, in-person meet up and/or childcare/coops in the community for things like hikes or pond explorations? Should this be a PTA sponsored activity?
A: First check with your insurance provider to establish what, if any, liability for your local PTA unit to provide activities. We ask that every local unit follow the guidelines established by Governor Northam and your local health department.

Q: How can we help out our most at-risk students at this time? [ELL, Special Ed, homeless, etc.]
A: VDOE has provided resources for families of students with disabilities and what they need to know during COVID-19 School Closure. Ensuring our families are receiving information on resources and services provided by VDOE and their school district are most important.

It is essential to continue sharing information with English Language Learners and their families, especially as it changes. Some strategies to support this effort are:
  • Ensure families are receiving reminders on preventative measures and key information regularly.
  • Many families may prefer to communicate via phone, text, or social media instead of email. They may also be sharing regular updates with their own networks through these channels. Check with your school district and community partners on how they are handling communication outreach.
  • Encourage the use of visuals, videos, and demonstrations.
  • Many COVID-19 resources have already been translated into other languages. Check with your local public health office to see if they have information serving the immigrant families in your community. Note: Families with lower levels of literacy may not be able to read written handouts. Making information available in a variety of forms will increase families' access.
  • Some immigrant communities may have robust communication networks within local organizations or through media outlets in their language. Collaborating with these networks can provide a valuable two-way benefit both in sharing information and learning more about families' questions, concerns, and ideas.
  • Learn more from the following:
  • Working with Community Organizations on Behalf of ELLs
  • Addressing Immigrant Students' Basic Needs
  • How COVID-19 is Impacting ELL/Immigrant Families

Students who are homeless need us now more than ever. Schools have always been the primary safety net for students who are homeless. Now, when risks of illness and homelessness are even higher, we must ensure they are as strongly equipped as possible. The National Center for Homeless Education has provided extensive information and resources to help meet the needs of this population.

Additionally, the National Network for Youth provides COVID-19 Resources for Youth Homelessness Providers that may offer some assistance to local units.
Brought to you by the Fall Back to Basics Committee of Virginia PTA

Donna Colombo, President, Virginia PTA
Pamela Croom, Chair, President-elect, Virginia PTA
Kathy Harrison, Treasurer, Virginia PTA
Scott Rhyne, VP Programs, Virginia PTA
Sara Case, Patriot District Director, Virginia PTA
Kirsten Shabanowitz, Hunt District Director, Virginia PTA
Joy Phillips, Eastern Shore District Director, Virginia PTA
Cherise Newsome, President, Norfolk Council PTA
Kerri Williams, President, Bedford County Council PTA
Kara Jenkins, President, Fairfax County Council PTA
Ben Pearson-Nelson, Chesterfield County Council PTA