IASB Offers News, Support During Coronavirus Emergency
By Kara Kienzler
The COVID-19 pandemic has forced us all to adapt our routines, rethink how work gets done, and focus on the essentials. At IASB, with these challenges came opportunities. Staff found solutions to planning and operations for the Association to continue to serve members. We improvised and used new technology. Departments collaborated and found new ways to stay connected and engage with school board members.
You received many communications from us. IASB ramped up online videos, transitioned to virtual meetings, and shared numerous updates on executive orders, emergency rules, guidance documents, and school closure announcements. To keep up with all of the breaking news and resources for school districts, we created an Information for school districts responding to COVID-19 webpage to direct traffic.
As a result of the pandemic, IASB canceled the six March Division Meetings that had not taken place. Other meetings or sessions scheduled in districts through April are rescheduled or moved to an online platform. These meetings included division-level governing and executive committee meetings, policy consultations, and executive search services, among others.
Within the first week of operating in a remote work capacity, IASB added weekly virtual meetings for the Association’s 21 regional divisions. “Conversation and Connection” with IASB Field Services Directors provided an opportunity for members to connect with fellow school board members via the Zoom online meeting platform. Members shared stories, discussed challenges, and asked questions. All eight Field Services Directors connected with 160 members via these sessions, with additional opportunities scheduled for April.
For board members wondering what their role is during the crisis, a new resource page was added at IASB.com to offer support. IASB’s Foundational Principles of Effective Governance extend to times of crisis, when good governance is more important than ever. In addition to “practice good governance,” a video and handout offer these tips for school board members:
1. Practice good governance.
2. Support your superintendent.
3. Unify your message.
4. Stay updated and educated on emergency mandates.
5. Be flexible and willing to learn and adapt to new virtual meeting venues.
6. Encourage your team.
Also, in a series of video interviews, board members shared their district successes and challenges. Members described how meetings and board decisions were being handled to comply with social distancing requirements and stay at home orders. They talked about the importance of frequent communication between the board and the superintendent. Throughout, board members described the importance of learning initial lessons, adapting, and resetting expectations for their school systems.
The Illinois General Assembly canceled session dates, so IASB Governmental Relations staff shared insight into their behind-the-scenes work to advocate on behalf of school boards. A series of video discussion topics included the 2020 primary results, schools transitioning to remote learning, working with the Illinois State Board of Education, and federal legislative issues including the stimulus relief package. You can find the full playlist on the IASB YouTube channel.
While under limited operations at both IASB Springfield and Lombard physical office locations, “business as usual” continues. Resolution forms and accompanying information were mailed to Association member districts in late March. The forms are also available online. PRESS Issue 103 was finished, published, and delivered to subscribers at PRESS Online, and the PRESS Issue 103 Update Memo was also sent in March. PRESS Plus Issue 103 was also completed and emails regarding board’s customized policy updates were delivered to PRESS Plus subscribers. The Association even hired a new policy consultant and began the process of onboarding for the first time in a virtual setting.
Planning for the November Joint Annual Conference also continues. District proposals for Share the Success panel presentations were selected in April.
The IASB website continues to be updated as the Association responds to new COVID-19 updates and health and safety measures to educate nearly 2 million public school students. At the time of publication, the Association is monitoring the Coronavirus health emergency and is giving due consideration to our members' safety and the impact on future events. We will continue to evaluate our in-person programming using information from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, local and national government resources, and other trusted agencies providing information on the virus and related risks or travel guidelines.
As we continue our work at IASB to help you be informed leaders of your community, we want all of our members and friends to be healthy and safe. We appreciate your patience as we work through the challenges to continue to serve your needs.Kara Kienzler is IASB Associate Executive Director for Communications and Production Services.