March 29, 2020

Family and Community Engagement During This Time of COVID-19

Guest Post Provided by Judy East, WSPTA Family and Community Engagement Committee member

COVID-19 has infiltrated every aspect of our lives. Daily routines interrupted. Shopping is a daily adventure now. Trips canceled. And our children are with us all the time as “social distancing” doesn’t include our own kids, sadly. (Only kidding…mostly!)

Our PTA lives are no different. Spring events and fundraisers canceled. Meetings on hold. Communities disrupted, unsure, frustrated, and plain scared. How can we, as PTA leaders, best support the children and families in our communities during this time?

First of all, we need to adjust our lens. Instead of looking at this situation as an endless series of problems, we could see it as an enormous opportunity for our PTAs. Who better to seek and support solutions to issues such as food availability, child activities, and learning than PTA – the child-centered grassroots organization who first advocated for children’s health and success? I love this quote by leadership expert Margaret Wheatley: The things we fear most in organizations – fluctuations, disturbances, imbalances – are the primary sources of creativity. We can think of COVID-19 as an opportunity to slow down from the daily PTA business and think about new ways to connect with our communities. Here are some areas on which we can focus:

Be positive. Fill your social media and communications (both PTA accounts and personal accounts) with optimism, gratitude, and humor. For example, “So grateful for our school staff’s tireless work supporting the educational needs of our children.” Negativity breeds negativity. The more supportive, positive thoughts we can generate, the better our community will manage and grow together.

Communication. Provide accurate information about the current situation. Have links on your PTA website or in your emails about where families can find resources for district and school updates, education suggestions, food banks, and medical attention. You can be a go-to place for families at a time when they are feeling overwhelmed.

Collaborate with school efforts. PTAs can work with the school or school district to provide support. Is there a food bank supporting the children in your community where you can direct donations? An online food drive?

Virtual PTA activities. Don’t stop connecting with your community, just think outside the box. Ideas that PTAs are doing across the state:

  • holding an online art contest;
  • showcasing a virtual spirit week (families can post pictures on Facebook);
  • organizing an online read-a-thon;
  • continuing weekly math challenges but do it through the website or Facebook page; or
  • reaching out to school staff to post fun, short bios about staff members.

Washington State PTA leadership is available to answer questions and concerns. We can’t wait to hear about the creative ways PTAs thrive during this uncertain time. One thing IS for certain, PTA was started during a time of adversity by tenacious never-give-up individuals and we can carry on their spirit today by lending support and aid to our families.

Don’t let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do. ~Coach John Wooden

Category: Family Engagement

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