asbointl.org SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS | SEPTEMBER 2020 7 One of the most valuable resources we have is each other. Going Forward in Challenging Times By David J. Lewis executive director’s message T he reopening of schools has caused feelings of uncertainty and fear and prompted a tremendous number of questions for school business profes- sionals around the world. They are grappling with issues such as on-campus learning, virtual instruction, Internet access, COVID-19 test- ing, social distancing, transportation, PPE, and teacher and staff safety—and unfortunately they do not have a lot of solid information to help guide the way. As school business professionals, where do we look for answers? One of the most valuable resources we have is each other—a network of school business officials around the world who are all working to come up with the best solu- tions and best practices that will contribute to a safe and healthy school environment for our students. As you are looking for resources to help you meet these daunting challenges, consider actively participating in the ASBO Inter- national Global School Business Network (asbointl.org/Network ) where your colleagues are sharing and discussing their districts’ school reopening plans and where you can gain valuable insights on the issues you are currently facing. As school business officials continue to monitor the spread of COVID-19 and its impact in their state and district, ASBO International is here to support our members with tools, information, and resources to stay informed and appropriately respond to COVID-19 to protect their students, staff, and communities. ASBO International continues to build on the many resources in our COVID-19 critical information blog on the network. The association has also been significantly ramping up our advocacy efforts, working with AASA and a host of other education organizations to address such critical topics as the additional funding needed for school districts to reopen and the question of liability if and when a lawsuit is brought against a dis- trict. We also are working together to garner support for more student nutrition flexibility by extending program waivers and to get lan- guage in the next COVID relief package that would provide USDA authority to extend the waivers again. As part of our efforts to continue to emphasize the importance of the school busi- ness professional’s perspective during this national debate on school reopening, we have continued our outreach to the U.S. Educa- tion Department and a broad array of media outlets, and are responding to requests for information from the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At this point in the pandemic, education leaders are trying to figure out how to be medical experts and medical experts are try- ing to figure out how schools run! While not the best of circumstances, we are now see- ing a greater interest from a wider audience about some of the broader challenges school districts have been facing since long before this pandemic. Which brings me to what I consider to be the most critically important challenge we are currently facing, even as we deal with the numerous political, medical, and financial pressures that bombard us every day: We must keep in mind the unique circumstances facing our special needs students; our high-poverty and underserved communities; and the par- ents, grandparents, and guardians of those students who are looking for solid informa- tion and guidance so they can make informed choices about what is best for their children. Sometimes faced with gut-wrenching deci- sions, offered little to no options, and lacking a support system to help them along the way, these are the families and students we need to make sure are front and center in our minds as we do our best to support a strong public edu- cation system for all.