PTA. Now More Than Ever.
During this unprecedented time, PTA is more important than ever. PTA’s framework of unifying voices for impactful changes for children and youth provides the tools to empower parents and teachers to advocate and speak up for the health, safety, and education of every child.
Washington State PTA encourages local PTAs and councils to share their success stories, view this video to learn more. These stories will be used to create resources and expand on ideas to assist other PTAs as they plan for the 2020-2021 year. In addition, as helpful links are identified and relevant information is learned, we will continue to expand and grow this page to assist PTA leaders in their communities. Let us know any other ideas that might be missing that would help you to be successful during this time by emailing email@example.com.
Office of the Superintendent of Instruction (OSPI)
Governor Inslee’s “Children & Youth Mental Health Crisis” Order: Questions & Answers (March 15, 2021)
Washington Department of Health
K-12 Schools 2020-2021 Guidance (updated March 25, 2021)
Washington Department of Health
Tool to Prepare for Provision of In-Person Learning among K-12 Students at Public and Private Schools during the COVID-19 Pandemic (aka Decision Tree; December 16, 2020)
Washington State Department of Labor & Industries
Employer Health & Safety Requirements For School Scenarios (updated March 25, 2021)
U.S. Department of Education
COVID-19 Handbook, Volume 1: Strategies for Safely Reopening Elementary and Secondary Schools (February 12, 2021)
Centers for Disease Control
K-12 School Operation Strategy – Summary of Recent Changes (updated March 19, 2021)
Centers for Disease Control
Schools and Child Care Programs (February 12, 2021)
Links to considerations and mitigation strategies for school and district administrators and school staff.
Centers for Disease Control
Children, Teens, and Young Adults (November 5, 2020)
Information for parents and caregivers
Governor Inslee’s Proclamation on the Phased Reopening of K-12 Schools (December 16, 2020)
Excerpt from the document: The safety, health, and well-being of students, staff, and their families is our top priority. The Department of Health is providing the following guidance for public and private colleges and universities and public and private K–12 schools to utilize when planning 2021 graduation and commencement ceremonies during the COVID-19 pandemic. Using the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery Plan, these requirements provide safer alternatives to the traditional ways we celebrate graduation.
Decisions to host graduation and commencement ceremonies remain at the discretion of college, university, and local school district leaders, as long as they do not conflict with Governor Inslee’s prohibitions outlined in the Healthy Washington Roadmap to Recovery Plan. Colleges, universities, schools, and districts retain the authority to postpone graduation ceremonies. Read the full document here.
OSPI: *updated February 1* K–12 Internet Access Program – The OSPI K–12 Internet Access Program connects students in need to internet access at home with no cost to the student or their family. Through the program, students whose families are low-income and are not currently connected to the internet can get connected through the end of the 2020–21 school year for free. This spring, through the federal CARES Act, Congress provided funds to local school districts and state education agencies to provide support in covering emergency COVID-19 costs. As additional families face economic challenges and some experience homelessness in the coming months, families of students eligible for free or reduced-price meals that do not have internet access can continue to sign up for this assistance. Along with a time extension, OSPI has removed the initial requirement that families did not have internet access prior to August 2020.
USDA: *updated March 9* USDA has extended the waiver for the summer meals program through September 30, 2021. All children 0-18 can get free breakfast and lunch from their local school district, regardless of whether they are enrolled and without income verification. Families should contact their local school district for details.
OSPI: Summary of Reopening Washington Schools 2020: Special Education Guidance. This guidance will help families of students with disabilities know what to expect when schools reopen. It will also help families make decisions for their students. The information has strategies for learning online, in person, and a hybrid of both.
OSPI: Resources to Support Student Well-Being & School Safety. Many students, educators, and their families may need additional support because of the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The resources on this page are intended to support school districts, schools, students, parents, and families in recognizing and responding to signs of emotional and behavioral distress
OSPI: New guidance documents available on specific topics on their Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources page (in the grey box on the right). Topics include guidance to school districts on Early Learning, Special Education, English Language Learners, Migrant Students, and Absences.
DOH: Behavioral Health Toolbox for Families: Supporting Children and Teens During the COVID-19 Pandemic.
The information provided by the Governor’s office is located in this blog post.
PTA is the oldest and largest child advocacy organization in the United States. Washington State PTA and all its affiliated PTAs have the mission to advocate for the health, safety, well-being, and education of the 1.1 million K-12 students across all of Washington state. The role of PTA in advocacy regarding students returning to learning in school buildings is complicated by several factors:
- COVID-19 infection rates vary widely across Washington, so WSPTA cannot take a one-size-fits-all advocacy approach.
- When and how to return students to school buildings is a local decision every school district must make individually, in consultation with their county’s Department of Health.
- While vast inequities existed in pre-COVID school models for some segments of our population, the pandemic has increased the trauma that these families experienced.
- In several school districts, district administrative plans were made before coming to an agreement with their teachers’ union, with resultant threats of work stoppages.
Washington Department of Health
Washington State K-12 School Testing Guidance (December 16, 2020)
Washington Department of Health – Learn to Return Playbook – Schools as Access Points for COVID-19 Testing (February 2021)
Washington Department of Health COVID-19 Vaccine page
Links to Vaccine Phase Finder and Vaccine Locator
National PTA media statement on reopening public preK-12 schools (June 12, 2020)
National PTA Position Statement – Reopening of Public PreK-12 Schools for the 2020-21 School Year
National PTA Position Statement – Distance and Remote Learning for K-12 Students
National PTA and National Education Association national poll exploring students’ experiences during the COVID-19 pandemic (December 16, 2020)
OSPI has updated the School Reopening Data Dashboard with new data. The dashboard includes more detail, including differences in reopening status by grade level and by student group, as well as the percentage of students learning in-person on an average day.
After studying emerging data from other states, the Washington State Department of Health (DOH) revised the metrics for when local school districts should consider bringing students back into school buildings, and comprehensive health and safety measures for how to resume once it is deemed safe.
The following resources are available in 11 different languages in the “For Students & Families” section of the OSPI Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Guidance & Resources page:
- The Resources to Support Multilingual Families dropdown outlines parents’ rights to translation and interpretation services, and family access to remote or distance learning activities. In addition to technology access, multilingual families may also need navigation support with accessing child care, early learning programs, nutrition, and financial assistance, and mental health and other health services.
- Step-by-step instructions on how to use five different teaching platforms:
- Class Dojo
- Google Classroom
OSPI has adopted emergency rules to address tracking “absences” in a time of COVID and the various approaches to instruction, including in-person, hybrid and remote learning. The rules will be in effect for the 2020-21 school year. Read the four-page summary here.
FAQ on attendance can be found here.
The conversation on reopening schools and the start of the 2020-2021 school year has left parents and families with many questions about what school will look like and what’s next for their child’s learning.
As part of National PTA’s initiative, From Report to Results – which seeks to ensure parents have access to meaningful educational data and the tools to interpret and use data to celebrate achievements and advocate for improvements so that all students have the best and most supportive learning environment possible – National PTA is excited to share the release of the Community Conversation resources for parents. The goal of the Community Conversations is to bring parents together with school and district leaders to discuss the impact of closures from COVID-19 on student and school performance, and understand how schools plan to move forward.
Despite some incomplete data from schools closing, states are still obligated to report data. Moreover, schools and districts are still responsible for serving all students well and ensuring the school is making progress in the areas needed. Student and school-level data will inform state decisions about how they will measure performance, and how they will assess the impact of school closures.
Parents are critical stakeholders in how schools gather, share and use school-performance data to make decisions.
National PTA identified the critical questions parents should ask school leaders to ensure that schools continue to share transparent school-performance data. PTA’s questions also address how schools are continuing to measure student learning and progress to ensure all students are being served well.
National PTA encourages PTAs to share these resources widely and hopes local PTAs will lead these conversations in their communities. The Community Conversation resources include tools to plan for and set up the conversation, like sample email language and one-pagers, as well as follow-up support like post-conversation surveys. These tools can be used for a variety of situations: to support larger conversations like a virtual town hall, or a smaller conversation between parents and a principal.
Beyond the Building: PTA the Virtual Way K-6
Beyond the Building: PTA the Virtual Way Middle/High School
Thanks to National PTA for compiling data on the overall impact of PTA on schools and students across the country! Many leaders have been struggling with how to share the value of PTA when we cannot host our traditional events and activities. Please share some of these graphics with your community to show how important it is to support PTA.
WSPTA President Janice Kutzera shares an important message to members and nonmembers alike. Here you will find why PTA is so important, especially right now. Now, more than ever, Washington’s children need you and you need your local PTA. We don’t need a building to bring us all together to make a difference for kids!
This school year will be a year like no other in PTA history. All of us must look at how we PTA in a different way. You may have heard the phrase “PTA flexible.” This is the year to show PTA flexible in action across everything we do. Just like schools have had to pivot, so do PTAs. You don’t need a building to PTA.
PTA is needed now more than ever. Many parents are feeling disconnected and disengaged from their school and community. PTAs can make those connections and rebuild the school community. To do this, PTAs must show their value and relevance in an all, or mostly, virtual setting. Together, we all must learn how to take in-person activities and adjust them to a virtual setting. Read the full article here.
The 2020-21 school year is upon us, and the PTA year is about to get into full swing! Hopefully your board of directors had a productive summer retreat and is planning a fall membership drive and the first membership meeting of the year. In many areas of Washington, membership meetings will need to be held virtually, which may require a little additional planning. Read the full article here.
The best membership campaigns for 2020-2021 will be the ones that don’t require paper forms and payment to be collected at school. Virtual membership campaigns will do three things for your PTA: reduce face-to-face contact, reduce the time processing memberships, make it simple for members to start enjoying member benefits right away. Read the full article on the blog.
How to Make Joining PTA Easy – Now more than ever, people want to connect with each other and know what is happening at their child’s school. Your PTA can fulfill the universal need to connect and belong, during this dark time. You should seek to not only renew current members but to reach out to new audiences, grow your PTA and build an even stronger community.
Each local PTA and council has a set of standing rules that members of the board of directors must read and be prepared to follow. Standing rules are a legally binding agreement between a PTA’s board and members about how that individual PTA will be run. Read the full article here.
Grants are a key tool PTAs use to support teachers in the classroom. The question many local leaders have this year is: Can we still do teacher grants with virtual or hybrid learning? Read the full article here.
WSPTA bylaws require an annual financial review be conducted and submitted to the PTA board of directors and membership. However, there is no requirement for the financial review committee to conduct the review in person.
If the county where the PTA is located is in Phase 2 or higher and the committee members feel comfortable meeting in person with masks and physical distancing (outside if possible), then an in-person review can take place.
If the committee is unable or uncomfortable meeting in person, they can utilize a secure/password-protected virtual meeting tool to conduct the financial review such as Zoom or Microsoft TEAMS. As always, the outgoing treasurer should be available by phone to answer questions but should not be present at financial review meeting. Read the full article on the blog.
Fundraising will look different for PTA in the 2020-2021 school year as families continue to navigate enormous change and uncertainty. PTAs may wonder whether they should even try to raise money, and if so, how they can be successful with virtual fundraisers. This article provides four tips for virtual fundraising, and some fun ideas to get you started! Read the full article on the blog.
Access this webinar, first shown at the 2020 WSPTA virtual convention, using the password: WSPTA-Virtual2020.
For electronic meetings and events, PTAs still must provide accommodations for individuals with disabilities, under the Americans With Disabilities Act (ADA) and Washington’s Law Against Discrimination (WLAD). Read the full blog post here.
With Thanksgiving on the horizon, Teri Davis, Region 3 & 4 Director, shares her gratitude in PTA and the connections she has gained in this guest blog post. She encourages everyone to keep up what you do because it matters. And know that “YOU make a difference, and without you, PTA and school would be a completely different experience.”
- Science Fair
- Racial Equity and Social Justice
- Teacher Appreciation
- Staying Connected
- Welcoming Kindergartners
This school year is going to be different from any other, and that requires us to think creatively about family engagement. Discover strategies for engaging families virtually, using an inclusive, individualized, integrated, and impactful approach. Watch the webinar, download the slidedeck, or review the handout using the links below.
WSPTA has many great programs to offer students. These are all programs that students can actively work on both at school and at home. Reflections is due January 22, 2021, and the remaining student programs are due on March 1, 2021.
WSPTA also gives PTAs and their leaders an opportunity to show their accomplishments throughout the year. PTA awards are due on March 15, 2021.
- Reflections – Organize virtual classes with guest artists to build skills, reach out to museums, music and dance studios, poetry class
- Invite families/students to show off their virtual classroom/work area and give tips on what works/doesn’t work
- Virtual story night in your jammies with milk and cookies (teachers and volunteers read; share cookie recipes in advance; awards for best jammies, etc.)
- Virtual talent show with submissions from kids, staff, and family members (participants submit video and PTA creates a collaborative movie … possibly do a watch party)
- Online book clubs for parents and kids
- Watch parties for a movie night, send out recipes for fun treats and create a themed contest
- Speakers with topics on social-emotional health and stress
- Weekly contests (haiku, spirit days, design a shirt, scavenger hunt, art)
- Holiday craft night with drive-thru pick up for supplies and Zoom demonstrations
- Pumpkin and scarecrow decorating contest
- Weekend scavenger hunt around town – give clues, point value, take pictures when you find it. Give prizes for certain points
- Back to school car parade – encourage drivers to decorate cars with school themes. A photographer takes pictures and/or a video to share out.
Helpful Resources and Links
- 5 Steps for a Different Kind of School Year – Learning Heroes flyer
- 5 Steps for a Different Kind of School Year (Spanish) – Learning Heroes flyer
- PTA Membership in the Time of COVID-19
- Planning for School in the Fall Infographic
- Planning for School in the Fall Summary
- Letter template for council leaders to contact your district administration on behalf of your local PTAs
- Letter template for local PTAs not served by a council to approach your district leaders
- Potential questions to survey families