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.”


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!