By Bill Chatfield, CFD, MSBO Board President, Director of Operations, Walled Lake Consolidated Schools
In a previous article, I lamented the August surprises we seemingly always deal with before the start of school. Never did I expect to see a surprise of this magnitude. Most August surprises for the business and operations departments revolve around construction delays, budget challenges, road closures, or for me last year, bat guano. In hindsight, I’d gladly deal with any of those problems compared to all of the COVID-19 challenges we are all dealing with today.
For those of you that welcomed students and staff back in person, congratulations and I hope everything goes well. Those of us that are starting the school year virtually will be watching closely and following your lead to safely return to in person instruction when that time comes, which isn’t soon enough.
This summer’s challenges have been like nothing most of us have ever experienced. Once the Return to School Roadmap was released, we were all faced with the task of determining whether and how to implement the required, strongly recommended, and recommended measures. This meant a frantic two months of obtaining hand sanitizer, disinfectant wipes, face masks, disposable gloves, thermometers, signage, sanitation supplies and equipment, plastic dividers, and much more. How do we keep kids safe on the bus? How do we feed them safely and efficiently? How do we pay for all of these supplies and will the CRF funds be enough and/or can we even spend it all? For those that opted for the virtual return to school, it also meant countless hours of developing and implementing a robust virtual instructional program. While I had little involvement in that piece, I was not only amazed at how complicated the process was but also how committed the instructional leaders were to ensuring students get a meaningful education, virtual or not.
The education industry has plenty of challenges – a crippling virus was not something anybody wanted or deserved. Yet, the amount of effort I see everybody in education putting forth to make this school year as safe and meaningful as possible for our children has given me a renewed optimism that we will rebound stronger and with more purpose than ever. Stay safe and best wishes on a great school year.