The National School Boards Association’s executive officers shared the invaluable perspective of local school board members across the country with the U.S. Department of Education in conjunction with the department’s National Safe School Reopening Summit.
The Summit, held Wednesday, March 24, connected leaders, educators, and students to share best practices and creative solutions to return to in-person learning. The summit also featured remarks from First Lady Dr. Jill Biden, U.S. Education Secretary Miguel Cardona, and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Rochelle Walensky.
School board members play a critical role in school building reopening decisions. As public officials responsible for the governance of local schools, board members collaborate with teachers, parents, community members, health experts, and other leaders in determining how and when their schools will return to in-person learning.
The officers of NSBA’s 2020-2021 Board of Directors shared their experiences of leading a school district through the COVID-19 national emergency and voiced their excitement for returning to in-person learning.
NSBA President and Worthington City School District (OH) Board Member Charlie Wilson shared that his district of more than 10,000 students is excited to return to in-person learning. He emphasized the importance of school boards making the best decisions for their unique communities and prioritizing the safety of students and staff.
NSBA President-elect and Aldine Independent School District (Texas) Board Member Viola Garcia highlighted that school boards have been attentively listening to input from parents, students, and staff. Guidance from the CDC and regional officials have been especially helpful, and Garcia welcomes additional resources that will keep schools safe places for students and staff.
Secretary-Treasurer and Seaman School District 345 (Kan.) Board Member Frank Henderson Jr. focused on how the pandemic illuminated a particular inequity in education: the homework gap. He commended school boards for supplying students and families with devices and internet access.
NSBA’s participation in the National Safe School Reopening Summit is its most recent collaboration with the U.S. Department of Education. Following the nomination of Miguel Cardona as Secretary of Education, NSBA and the Connecticut Association of Boards of Education issued statements commending the Secretary and promising to work with him. NSBA also met with the Biden administration several times and provided a series of recommendations to guide education policy.