PTA/PTO Guide to Summer 2020: Preparing for an Uncertain Fall
With COVID-19 on the rise, summer plans have been readjusted and the fall school year format remains uncertain. But it is not just children who are facing a change in their plans, PTAs and PTOs are also in uncharted territory. They have to plan for a fall school term without certainty about what the fall will look like. This uncertainty does not have to result in inaction; here are some things PTAs and PTOs can do over this summer to get prepared.
1) Schedule a Summer Executive Board Meeting (virtually)
Summers are a great time to meet and plan the upcoming academic year with the organization’s executive board. Members are likely to have a bit more time on their hands, as they will be free from the PTA/PTO workload that the school year brings. It is also a good time to welcome and acclimate new members who can learn from the veterans on the team. So go ahead and schedule a meeting or two. If you cannot use your school’s technology, Google offers conferencing or you can leverage an app like Houseparty.
You should set an agenda that includes the following: an ice breaker to get to know each other (e.g., social questions), a discussion of the upcoming year’s goals, and any learnings from last year. Keep this first meeting pretty high level as its goal is to get to know each other and get everyone on the same page. You should plan to schedule an late summer/early fall meeting to get into the school year plan.
2) Organize your School Fundraising Efforts
Like any other institution, schools also need sufficient funds to operate effectively. This is even more important during the budget impacts of COVID-19. PTAs/PTOs can utilize the summer months to strategically plan out their school fundraising ventures for the upcoming academic year. One thing that is really easy to do is to open an online store for school spirit wear and apparel. The PTA can then push spirit whereas part of back to school shopping time. This gets fundraising going early and since the store stays open all year, allows it to continue with minimal effort from the PTA.
If you are the PTA member in charge of any fundraising efforts, spend some time researching virtual options for your typical fundraisers. For example, virtual fun runs are popular and easy to do. Book sales can be done virtually (e.g. scholastic) and instead of a fall carnival, consider a fall drive-in movie fundraiser. There are a dozen more ideas out there on google just waiting to be discovered.
3) Get in Touch with School Administration
The partnership between the PTA/PTO and administration has always been a critical one. This is even more true this fall where the school administration is dealing with a lot of change for fall 2020. As a PTO leader, reach out to the administration over the summer and share any PTA/PTO plans. Ask them what they need from the organization this year that may be different than prior years. Getting this information will help your organization plan for the upcoming school year.
4) Send Parents an Update
Summer doesn’t mean that communication with parents should cease to exist. Sure, there is not as much to share but one update over the summer can be helpful in setting the stage for parental involvement in the fall. Your summer communication should include an introduction to any new board members, any recruitment calls for open positions, an update on how the PTA/PTO will change this fall, in particular, and, if you’re ready, a preview of any fall fundraising.
We know there is a lot of uncertainty surrounding this fall and you will not be able to prepare for every scenario. However, if you follow some of these tips you are able to better position your parent organization for fall success. If you have more tips, we would love to hear from you here or on our Facebook page.