Governance corner
Practical tips from our MIG faculty
Welcoming students and staff back to campus and fostering a new normal
Students waving outside bus windows

As communities and schools grapple with moving forward after school closures in the 2020–21 school year and the resulting learning loss and social-emotional trauma, how schools welcome students and staff back onto campuses can set the tone for the 2022–23 academic year. Putting the school system’s focus squarely on supporting student achievement and well-being should be part of this “new normal” — as some have characterized life after the height of the pandemic.

Some questions for boards to consider:

  • Does our board’s behavior and demeanor at the dais demonstrate our commitment to a culture of connection and engagement, knowing that these translate to academic success?
  • How do we make sure our superintendent and board share motivation to engage students and staff in an energetic way at the beginning of the year?
  • Are we modeling behaviors and standing behind protocols that show sensitivity and respect for new and returning students or staff for whom COVID concerns are still significant?
  • How have we evaluated the relative effectiveness of small group connection practices at the start of school instead of, or in conjunction with, traditional first-day large group assemblies?
  • In what ways do we empower our superintendent and their team to practice self care and stress reduction during the critical, hectic first weeks of the school year?

As in all things, school board members must strive to maintain their strategic focus, leaving school operations and tactics to the highly valued staff on their campuses. But trustees may certainly be bold and enthusiastic in imagining ways the governance team can be vocally supportive of back-to-school activities that are engaging, motivational and inspirational. Those strategies will serve well the goals of always enhancing student learning and achievement.