School Business Affairs September 2020 SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | SEPTEMBER 2020 41 Promoting an attitude of gratitude. Recognizing Our Essential Employees By Kelley D. Kitchen FROM THE FIELD I n mid-March, educators were anxiously awaiting spring break and planning for the year-end celebrations; Goshen Com- munity Schools in Indiana was no dif- ferent. All of that changed on Friday, March 13, when we heard words that we thought were relegated to history books: “pan- demic,”“quarantine,” and “epidemic.” New phrases such as “self-isolate” and “social distancing” also emerged and have become part of our everyday vocabulary. But as school leaders, we knew that whatever apprehension, challenges, and fear existed, kids needed to continue learning. The decision to close Goshen Community Schools was made on March 15. Immedi- ately, the administration and staff brain- stormed to develop and implement solutions to educate, feed, and meet the needs of all K–12 students. Decision making on and the delivery of student services ran at lightning speed. For example, a mere three days after announcing our closure, nearly 7,300 meals were pre- pared, packaged, and delivered to Goshen neighborhoods by bus. Certainly, every school district employee across the country is essential, regardless of the COVID-19 pandemic. However, the crisis provided a new dimension to the defi- nition of “essential employee”: those whose work to continue and enhance instruction must be completed on-site. These employee groups included school nutrition, maintenance, custodial services, transportation, finance, human resources, COURTESY OF GOSHEN COMMUNITY SCHOOLS, GOSHEN, INDIANA. The pandemic crisis provided a new dimension to the definition of “essential employees” in Goshen, Indiana.