National PTA Adopts Position Statement on Reopening of Public PreK-12 Schools for the 2020-2021 School Year

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, the National PTA Board of Directors has adopted a position statement on the reopening of public preK-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year. The statement calls for any decision to reopen schools to involve parents, families, students, educators, school employees, public health experts, health practitioners and community members in the planning, implementation and monitoring stages of reopening. It also calls on federal and state governments to provide the funding necessary to ensure that schools have the resources they need to reopen as safely and successfully as possible.

“Our utmost priority during this crisis continues to be the health and safety of all students, educators, school employees and families. Our association remains committed to advocating for our nation’s students, families and schools to ensure they have what they need during this challenging time,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA. “National PTA believes that inclusive stakeholder engagement is essential for effective decision making and successful implementation of school reopening plans, particularly engagement with parents and students to address unique family needs. We also need significant, immediate and continuing federal and state funding as many of our nation’s school districts are already working without the resources they need to provide an equitable education to all students, and recovery from the pandemic is an added strain.”

National PTA’s position is that plans for reopening must incorporate the best available science and expertise of infectious disease doctors and health practitioners. Plans shall also strictly follow the most up to date Center for Disease Control guidelines, including but not limited to reasonable social distancing, rigorous sanitizing processes and viral screening and testing protocols. The association recognizes that there will not be a one-size fits all process for the reopening of schools.

As outlined in the position statement, effective stakeholder engagement must be inclusive, transparent, provide multiple opportunities for input and include meaningful, clear and concise communication. National PTA recommends that all information and protocols be disseminated to parents, families, students and communities, following current best practices for family and student engagement. The association urges that all communications must be accessible to parents with disabilities and available in other languages.

As also included in the position statement, National PTA strongly supports a robust federal investment to address the impact of budget cuts on public schools and to help pay for the costs for schools to reopen safely and successfully. Recent cost-analyses by national education groups have demonstrated the urgent need for congressional action to ensure schools have what they need to operate safe and healthy environments and provide high-quality teaching and learning. National PTA urges Congress to provide at least $175 billion in funding for preK-12 education in the next COVID-19 relief package. These resources need to be provided now so that schools can begin planning and preparing to reopen in the fall.

“Our public education system is the major vehicle for perpetuating the basic values of a democratic system of government. However, our public schools have been woefully under-resourced for decades,” added Boggs. “Investments in our public education system are more critical now than ever before. Investments must be made immediately to ensure every public school has the proper resources to help every child learn, grow and reach their fullest potential while keeping them safe and healthy.”

In addition to the position statement on reopening of public preK-12 schools for the 2020-2021 school year, the National PTA Board of Directors also adopted a position statement in April on Distance and Remote Learning for K12 Students during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Further, National PTA launched a comprehensive webpage at PTA.org/COVID-19 with resources, tools and information to support families and educators amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The association has also focused several episodes of its Notes from the Backpack podcast on topics of concern for families due to COVID-19. Additionally, National PTA is granting $1.5M to PTAs across the country to help meet critical needs of students, families, teachers and schools due to the virus.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on and presented many challenges for families and schools,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “National PTA and PTAs across the country remain committed to supporting students, families and schools in this time of crisis.”


June 2020 News from National PTA

LEARNING HEROES: Learning Heroes has released their NEW parent/guardian report, Parents 2020: COVID-19 Closures – A Redefining Moment for Students, Parents and Schools. The survey found that despite significant challenges, many parents are engaging deeply in their children’s remote learning and will show up differently next school year. Read the new #Parents2020 report now and share!

NATIONAL PTA FOOD INSECURITY WEBINAR: According to the USDA, 37.2 million people lived in food-insecure households in 2018. Over the last few months, we have seen firsthand how families struggle with food insecurity and hunger. Join National PTA in our four-part Food Insecurity Webinar Series designed to engage with PTAs and parents on food insecurity and empower them by providing tips on how to work to reduce food insecurity within their schools and for their families. Get webinar details and registration information here.

JUNE 1 – SCHOOL OF EXCELLENCE: Enrollment for the 2020-21 School of Excellence program opens on June 1 at PTA.org/Excellence. Encourage your local units to make the commitment to rebuilding in the wake of COVID-19 for an improved family-school partnership and earn recognition for their accomplishments. Encourage and track enrollment using the resources provided on the State Excellence Library at PTA.org/StateExcellenceLibrary, a hidden website designed only for State PTA Excellence Leaders.

National PTA Statement on Racial Inequity and Injustice in America

“National PTA condemns the inequitable and brutal treatment of all African Americans in this country. No human being should be subject to what we saw happen to George Floyd last week. Millions of people are outraged by the killing of another unarmed black man, and like so many Americans, we mourn the recent deaths of Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery and other African Americans who died, unable to achieve their full potential in life.

“This ongoing problem of unequal justice has led to protests across this country and continues to have a profound effect on African Americans and communities of color, who feel hurt, frustrated, angry and afraid. Our nation must do better, and PTA stands with those who peacefully seek to inspire meaningful change.

“While we understand significant reforms are needed to create lasting change that will end the systemic discrimination and injustices that have existed for far too long, PTA has a rich legacy in coming together to help solve the toughest problems facing our children and families. PTA can help lead the way with our collective voice.

“For over 120 years, PTA has been the conscience of this country, speaking on behalf of our nation’s most valuable and vulnerable resourceour children. This year, as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of the unification of the National Parent Teacher Association and the National Congress of Colored Parents and Teachers, we recognize we are experiencing times that mirror why the unification was necessary. It is imperative that we remain united and supportive during this difficult time.

“Our transcendent goal has always been to change the lives of children for the better and we will continue to ensure our society values and protects every child. We encourage PTA members and all concerned citizens to speak out and demand that every child be afforded the opportunity to make their potential a reality. Together, we can move above and beyond the perceived division of our diverse experiences and build a shared experience—the experience of working together as human beings, intent on building a better nation and world for our children’s future.”

The preceding statement can be attributed to National PTA President Leslie Boggs and National PTA Executive Director Nathan R. Monell, CAE


National PTA to Fund $1.5M to PTAs Across the Country to Support School Communities During COVID-19 Crisis

National PTA announced today that $1.5M in grants will be awarded to PTAs across the country to help meet critical needs of students, families, teachers and schools due to COVID-19. The funding is made possible by PTA Proud National Sponsors TikTok, Google, Bayer Fund, Mathnasium and Life360.

“COVID-19 has presented many challenges for families and schools. Now more than ever, PTAs nationwide are working hard to ensure our students, families and educators are safe, healthy and have what they need—focusing on social and emotional wellbeing, resources for distance teaching and learning, bridging the digital divide and addressing food insecurity,” said Leslie Boggs, president of National PTA.

When most U.S. schools closed due to the pandemic, over 70 PTA grant recipients were scheduled to host sponsored family night programs, ranging from science festivals and math nights to Be Internet Awesome events.

“All of our sponsors impacted by this situation agreed to allow the grant money to be repurposed to meet immediate needs created by COVID-19. These companies really stepped up, and with this money, these PTAs will be able to make even more of a difference for their school communities during this time,” added Boggs.

Collectively between TikTok, Google, Bayer Fund, Mathnasium and Life360, over $160,000 in sponsored program grants is being redirected immediately to address critical community needs.

Google, a founding sponsor of National PTA’s PTA Connected initiative, was the first to agree to this pivot and also had the largest amount of grants pending in the field.

In addition to the grant money, TikTok has named National PTA as a beneficiary of its Community Relief Fund, donating $2M to the association. A significant portion of this funding will be granted in phases to district, council, region and local PTAs, with an application opening June 1.

“We understand the importance of continuing educational success for students who are physically away from the classroom and have been inspired to see students and teachers connecting on TikTok. We are grateful to our educators and the PTA for supporting critical K-12 programs for distance learning as well as addressing food insecurity, and hope our donation towards these needs will provide some relief to the families impacted by the COVID-19 crisis,” said Eric Ebenstein, director of public policy at TikTok.

As another part of TikTok’s Community Relief Fund effort, May 5—which coincides with Teacher Appreciation Week and the global #GivingTuesdayNow campaign—TikTok will be celebrating the critical work of educators and PTAs, including hosting livestreams with TikTok creators and encouraging donations by TikTok users to National PTA. The company has pledged to match up to $10M in donations by TikTok users to National PTA and a handful of other chosen beneficiaries through May 27.

National PTA has also kicked off a “family video challenge” on the TikTok app to encourage families to show how they are learning during this time of school closures using the hashtag #AlwaysLearning and apply TikTok’s new Donation Sticker to their videos to allow viewers to make donations to the association within the TikTok app.

In addition to providing the funding to PTAs and school communities, National PTA launched a comprehensive webpage at PTA.org/COVID-19 with resources, tools and information to support families and educators amid the COVID-19 pandemic. The association has also focused several episodes of its Notes from the Backpack podcast on topics of concern for families due to COVID-19. Further, National PTA has been advocating for access and support for families and schools for online learning, access to school meals, funding for family engagement, and fiscal and policy relief for state and local education agencies.

“COVID-19 has had a significant impact on families and our nation’s education system,” said Nathan R. Monell, CAE, National PTA executive director. “National PTA and PTAs across the country remain committed to supporting and advocating for students, families, schools and communities in this time of crisis.”


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.