More meeting restrictions and school closure extensions

So what does this mean for PTAs in Missouri?

Missouri PTA realizes that many of our units and councils are concerned that our ability to conduct regular business, officer elections and transitions is being impaired by the current health concerns. Governor Parson’s recent announcement of the stay at home order through April 24 brings more uncertainty about when meetings will be able to take place. There have been many questions and discussions regarding if, how or when meetings can take place. These are unprecedented times and it is impossible to know all of the answers or foresee what things will be like in 30 days or three months from now. It is important to follow our bylaws, our governing document as we look for guidance.

Read your bylaws and ask Missouri PTA questions if you are unsure.

Many PTA/PTSA units have provisions in their bylaws that allow for electronic voting by the Executive Committee or Executive Board. Often the articles that cover the Executive Committee or Executive Board do not include the activities of the general members, (the election of officers, bylaws, and budgets). These important decisions are not normally delegated in bylaws to a board or other governing body. Please review your bylaws carefully regarding electronic voting and what authority your Executive Committee or Executive Board has. If you
need a copy of your bylaws or have questions please contact bylaws@mopta.org.

Please do not jump to the conclusion that voting electronically or digitally is “ok” and no one is going to care.

There are many things to consider when trying to meet this way and what to include on the agenda. Does every member have the capability to hear and speak simultaneously? If your unit has 250 members, how are you going to accomplish this? We know that not all of our families have the same digital capability because of the challenges schools are facing with remote learning. It does not matter if only 10 people usually show up for your “normal” monthly general meeting and those same 10 members were on the Zoom meeting or conference call. What does matter is that 10 other members could not dial in. Our bylaws are in place to protect the rights of the individual member. It is when that member’s rights are not considered that problems occur and voting results are contested. Let’s make sure in our rush to move forward or help we are not bypassing our processes. We still need all voices at the table to have open honest discussions and sharing of ideas.

Our parliamentarian, Dr. Leonard Young has provided guidelines regarding electronic meetings. The detailed explanation is available through this link, but in summary:

“The key is they (electronic meetings) must be authorized in the bylaws and must, at a minimum, provide for simultaneous aural communication.  So just doing voting electronically without the provisions for the give and take associated with a real meeting (making nominations, debating, making motions, etc.) is not permissible.”

Hold Informative Meetings
If you are not authorized to meet electronically then you cannot conduct business (vote) electronically. Those decisions will have to be put on hold. Informative meetings are allowed and should be held. Financials can be distributed and committee reports shared. Invite your district to share updates. Discuss ideas on how the unit will be moving forward. Get member input and do some initial planning (similar to committee work) so that you will be ready to conduct business as soon as you can meet in person. We need to be engaged and connected. Be the resource our families are needing.

Here are some guidelines and suggestions to consider when trying to develop a plan to move your PTA forward.

1. First stay calm and realize you are not alone. Units, councils and states across the country are in that same boat.
2. Read your bylaws to see if meeting electronically is allowed. If permitted follow RONR guidelines for electronic meetings and your bylaws for meeting notifications and quorums.
3. Your bylaws include provisions for just this type of incident. Article VI Section 7 states officers serve until their successors are elected. So technically until new officers are elected, the existing officers are still in place and that is when their term will end. This allows for the unit to continue on with business until schools are open and officer elections can be held during a general meeting with a quorum present.
4. PTA does not stop in May. It is ok to hold meetings during the summer if that is what works best for your unit.
5. Changes on bank accounts usually require minutes from meetings that the elections took place and signatures from individuals. These will be obtainable once your unit is able to meet again. For some, it may be this fall.
6. Current budgets are not “frozen”. Expenses included in the current approved budget are still allowed. Amendments are not allowed. For example, senior scholarships. Budgets can be prepared for the next school year but will need to be approved or amended at a general meeting.
7. There are many ways to help in this time of need but remember we are restricted as a nonprofit organization when it comes to monetary donations.

Richard Bach stated, “Every problem has a gift for you in its hands”. We need to reflect on why we became involved in PTA and focus on navigating the interim. Let’s be positive and proactive for the upcoming school year and make it the best ever! Check out the suggested ways to utilize this time to Get Ready for Next Year.

The uncertainty about when schools are going to be back in session combined with our desire to “help” our students, families and school staff may be adding to your stress in this very overwhelming situation. I understand because I am having the same feelings. We have those feelings because we are PTA volunteers dedicated to our school community. In the 150+ years PTA has been in existence it has navigated many big bumps in the road including the Depression, several wars and influenza. We will survive this too and be even stronger.

We are currently working on some key points to look for in your bylaws that will help guide you moving forward. An informative conference call is being planned to allow unit/council leaders to ask questions and collaborate on solutions. Look for information on these resources next week. Remember Missouri PTA is here to answer questions and help however we can. We are all a part of the same team.

It is times like this that we need to work together and rely on each other.

Susan Rupert
Missouri PTA President


Message from Our MOPTA President

Hello Missouri PTA Members,

Our 104th Annual State Convention scheduled for May 1-3, 2020 has been canceled as well as the Reflections Student Showcase scheduled for Sunday, May 3.

Delegate registration fees that have been paid will be fully refunded. Payments made by PayPal will be refunded through PayPal. Those individuals, units or councils that paid by check will receive a check from Missouri PTA. Thank you in advance for your patience and understanding while we process these refund payments.

Missouri PTA cannot make any changes in hotel reservations made by delegates. Individuals will need to contact the Hilton Frontenac directly at ph. (314) 824-6015.

Sadly, we are unable to come together as planned to celebrate the talent of our young artists that were recognized at the state level of Reflections this year. Nevertheless, we want to make sure they are aware of how proud we are of their achievements. Plans are being developed regarding the program recognition and awards. We will update you when these details are available. If you have an “outside the box” idea, email reflections@mopta.org !

Being at home right now allows me to work on all those unfinished projects, try some new crafts and clean house. My husband keeps saying, “Stop moving the furniture!” Most of all, it is an opportunity to wear my PTA hat more. Your Board of Managers continues to work hard to serve you while ensuring the safety of their family and their own. We are striving to find ways to navigate the challenges and opportunities before us. We will keep you updated!

Stay healthy PTA Family!

Susan Rupert
President
Missouri PTA


Reflections Announcement

Missouri PTA is so proud of all of our State Reflections Award recipients! Recognizing the creative efforts of our Missouri students is of the utmost importance and while sadly we have to cancel the State Showcase in May, we are working to display the artwork digitally. We are working on the details of this new experience and will be in contact with local leaders and families as we know more and fine tune some details. Thank you to all of our participating Reflections units and to the award recipients!

Reflections is timeless and enduring and we will overcome the current challenges to bring Arts
Education to the forefront. Stay tuned for details and the announcement of the 2020-2021 theme and
logo!


National PTA Frequently Asked Questions Regarding COVID-19

The outbreak of COVID-19 (Coronavirus) is a rapidly evolving public health situation. State and local PTAs must follow the direction and guidance of their respective health and education departments.

In order to assist and support the most vulnerable children and families, PTAs should reach out to their local school districts and departments of health to determine high-need areas and collaborate with community groups—such as food pantries—to provide essential services and support.

We have compiled a number of resources for our community to use to help navigate the pandemic.

How do I talk to my child about the Coronavirus?

Children, as well as adults, are likely to experience anxiety in this uncertain time. Several resources have been created by leading mental health experts on how to have age-appropriate, fact-based and reassuring conversations with you children about the outbreak and the steps they can take to stay healthy.

How to Talk to Your Child about the Coronavirus, Kids Health

Talking to Children About COVID-19 (Coronavirus): A Parent Resource, National Association of School Psychologists

Parent/Caregiver Guide to Helping Families Cope with the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), National Child Traumatic Stress Network

Where can I go for information on the Coronavirus and its impact on education and children?

There are several resources available for parents about the Coronavirus. The U.S. Department of Education (ED) has resources to assist education leaders in protecting student privacy and ensuring students with disabilities continue to receive services required under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) during school closures due to the outbreak.

The ED also released important information for K-12 educators on flexibilities the Department could grant when it comes to the accountability standards required by law under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA). We particularly recommend reviewing COVID-19 (“Coronavirus”) Information and Resources for Schools and School Personnel.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has additional guidance and further resources, including:

Colorín Colorado is a good resource for English Language Learners and their families, as well as educators. We particularly want to call attention to their Multilingual Coronavirus Resources for Schools.

What if I do not have internet access in my home? What is being done to support equitable access to the internet for student learning?

Several internet providers have announced that they will make their services available for free for households with K-12 and/or college students who don’t already have internet through the company. Further installation fees may also be waived for new student households. Please contact your local internet provider for additional information.

National PTA has joined several other education groups in calling for the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to temporarily allow schools to utilize E-Rate program funding to provide Wi-Fi hotspots or devices with Wi-Fi capability to students who lack internet access at home. This action would help ensure that all students can remotely continue their education during the current public health emergency.

The coronavirus pandemic is shining a bright light on the so-called “homework gap” experienced by 12 million students in this country. The gap refers to those students who do not have internet access at home and are unable to complete their homework—at a time when over 70% of educators assign schoolwork that requires the internet.

As a parent, how can I support learning at home?

Recognizing that not all families or children will have the resources to access and leverage digital learning opportunities, PTAs should work with their local school and district to understand what plans are in place or are being developed to equitably support student learning during school closures. PTAs can (and should!) work with schools to help develop student learning plans during school closures and help communicate these plans to families.

The International Society for Technology in Education (ISTE), has developed 10 Strategies for Online Learning During Coronavirus Outbreak. The Today Show has curated some free educational activities that students and families can engage in here.

What is being done to ensure vulnerable youth have access to school meals?

Nearly 22 million students depend on subsidized breakfasts and lunches served at schools. All Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) programs—including the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP); Special Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC); and the National School Lunch and Breakfast Programs—have flexibilities and contingencies built-in to allow them to respond to on-the-ground realities in the event of a disaster or emergency situation. You can view the USDA’s Food and Nutrition Service Response to COVID-19 here.

PTAs should connect with their local schools and district to learn about the plans for meal distribution and how best to support and promote those efforts. Members of Congress have introduced bipartisan legislation, COVID–19 Child Nutrition Response Act to protect students’ access to school meal benefits during school closures related to COVID-19.

What legislative action is Congress taking regarding the Coronavirus?

Legislation is currently pending in Congress. Specifically, the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (H.R. 6201) responds to the coronavirus outbreak by providing paid sick leave and free coronavirus testing, expanding food assistance and unemployment benefits, and requiring employers to provide additional protections for health care workers.

Additionally, members of Congress have introduced the Supporting Students in Response to Coronavirus Act (H.R. 6275) which will provide needed resources to early childhood programs, K-12 schools and institutions of higher education. The legislation will provide $3 billion dollars in grants to provide support services to students, including mental health and technology and funding to clean school facilities.

You can write to your elected officials about these and other bills using our Take Action Network.

What if I have concerns about end-of-year state testing?

The U.S. Department of Education has issued guidance on assessments and accountability. The Department of Education generally does not grant statewide waivers of assessment requirements under section 1111(b)(2) of the ESEA.

However, due to the unique circumstances that may arise as a result of COVID-19, such as a school closing during the entire testing window, it may not be feasible for a State to administer some or all of its assessments, in which case the Department would consider a targeted one-year waiver of the assessment requirements for those schools impacted by the extraordinary circumstances.

States with schools that must close due to the COVID-19 may also want to consider whether it is possible to adjust or extend the testing window to accommodate as many students as possible, including students in schools that were closed for some period. Please contact your state PTA and/or our SEA with questions about testing in your state.

What type of consideration should be taken regarding the 2020 National PTA Convention & Expo?

National PTA continues to closely monitor all developments and restrictions created by the spread of COVID-19 and the impacts on our June 2020 Convention.

We have extended early-bird registration to April 20 and we will communicate any convention-related decisions to our membership in a timely manner.

Learn more about the event at PTA.org/Convention.


Missouri PTA Announcement

Hello Missouri PTA Members,

In response to the health information and recommendations related to the coronavirus outbreak, many school districts have closed and suspended building access to groups that utilize their facilities. Missouri PTA knows this combined with the CDC guidelines for meetings/gatherings creates many concerns for our PTAs across the state.

I would like to address our nominating and officer election process.  The March 31 deadline for providing officer information to our state office is set in our bylaws and is a requirement of good standing.   This date cannot be changed without a bylaws amendment approved at our state convention. We understand that units/councils could be delayed in completing their election process and forwarding this information to the state office. Please be assured that Missouri PTA is sensitive to these extenuating circumstances and will support our units and councils every way
we possibly can. Once officer information is received, units’ and councils’ good standing status will be updated accordingly.

Good standing is a factor when verifying eligibility for awards, recognition, scholarships, grants, etc. The Missouri PTA Executive Committee has voted to exempt applications from the 2020-2021 officer information submission deadline of March 31. This exception will end on September 1, 2020.

An update regarding the status of the 104 th Annual State convention scheduled for May 1-3 is forthcoming. We appreciate your patience in the meantime.

This is an unprecedented situation filled with lots of questions and uncertainty for all of us especially our students. I hope that we, as PTA members will see this as an opportunity to find ways to work with our education partners to support our families.

Susan Rupert
President
Missouri PTA