School Business Affairs June 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | JUNE 2020 5 A s I reflect on how we have responded to the COVID-19 pan- demic during the past couple of months, I think about our teachers who had to redo their teaching practices com- pletely without much warning. I imagine it’s similar to a feeling I had when I was 16 and my well-meaning older brother asked me to hold onto the steering wheel of our 1973 VW bus while driving in the fast lane of the Santa Monica Freeway. He knew I had a fear of learning how to drive on the LA freeways. When he climbed over the driver’s seat into the back of the van, I had no choice but to jump in the driver’s seat, step on the gas pedal, and go. I remember screaming at him at the top of my lungs about how I couldn’t do it. Then I realized I was doing it as all three of my brothers sat in the back seats laughing and cheering me on. I didn’t find it funny at the time, yet it’s a memory we have laughed about for years. While I chose not to teach my children how to drive using this method, it was quite effective. All of us have put our hearts and souls into supporting our students, staff, and communi- ties this spring as we have closed schools and implemented distance learning through the end of the school year. The education commu- nity has been talking about best practices for digital learning for decades and now we find ourselves in full implementation as we prepare to reopen schools. I believe this pandemic event will change how we teach in schools for years to come. This crisis is our opportunity to gear toward personalized learning—project-based learning that holds the interest of each child. It’s time to seek input from students, teachers, and par- ents about what has worked well and what we need to have in place for the fall. As we do this work, one of our most impor- tant skill sets has been and continues to be flex- ibility. For the fall reopening of school, we will need to design three methods of instruction: in-person with social distancing, online, and a blended model of onsite and digital learning. We will need to respond to families with health concerns who decide they won’t send their child back to brick and mortar facilities until a vaccination becomes available. How will we continue student learning when we need to reclose a school to quarantine staff and students who were exposed to a positive COVID-19 student or staff member? In terms of our operational work, the social distancing of students on a school bus could mean five times as many vehicles with the same school schedule. How would we clean buses between each group of students? Would we ask or pay our parents to deliver students to school? Will we modify school schedules to bring fewer students to school as social distancing requires much fewer students in a classroom? Will we teach elementary students in schools and secondary students online? Would we move our elementary students to our larger secondary campuses to accommodate the space required for all students to attend every day? Would we bring in small groups of students who need extra supports while most students learn online? There are so many issues to consider. As we support our instructional leadership, we need to share the possible parameters with the further limited resources we have due to the revenue shortfalls. As we innovate, who are we surrounding ourselves with: administrators of similar-sized districts? Regional peers? The leaders we’ve always admired? Our networking with peers is needed now more than ever. We are all taking the wheel to keep our schools and students on the road and going forward. Staying the Course By Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO president’s message Claire Hertz, CSBA, SFO Deputy Superintendent, Business &Operations Portland (Oregon) Public Schools Tom Wohlleber, CSRM Immediate Past President Marvin Dereef Jr., SFO Director through 2020 Bill Sutter, SFO Director through 2020 2020 Board of Directors Ed Chabal Vice President David Ginsberg Director through 2022 Susan Harkin, SFO Director through 2021 Ryan Stechschulte Director through 2022 John Hutchison, CPA, SFO Director through 2021 David J. Lewis Executive Director