Science Is Leading the Way to Reopen Schools

The COVID-19 pandemic has presented immense and immediate challenges for schools across the country. Seemingly overnight, teachers and administrators had to rework their curriculum, shift to online learning, and find ways to engage students of all ages from behind a screen. At the same time, students and parents worked to quickly acclimate to the virtual environment, juggling jobs, school and childcare—all during a global pandemic.

As a mother of three boys, I experienced these challenges and stresses in my own family. My son’s high school held a “back to school night” right after I was nominated to be CDC Director. I heard—as a mother and as the Director—about the difficulties of engaging students on Zoom. Like many of you, I did my best to keep my kids safe while juggling work and other responsibilities.

From the beginning of my tenure as CDC Director, one of the top priorities for the agency has been getting students back into the classroom safely. The science tells us that in addition to education, in-person learning gives our children access to the vital social and mental health services that prepare them for success in our world. That is why CDC strongly believes schools should be the last place to close and the first place to open, to ensure no child goes without these essential services.

We know that students from low-resourced communities, students from ethnic and racial minority communities, and students with disabilities are disproportionately affected by the loss of in-person instruction. By following the science and engaging with our partners, CDC has worked to develop guidance and resources to ensure that every student can learn in the classroom safely during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Science Is Leading the Way

Science is leading the way in how we respond to COVID-19, including how to get our children back into classrooms during the pandemic—while prioritizing the safety of students, teachers and school staff. Before developing guidance to safely reopen schools, CDC conducted an in-depth review of all the available data and engaged with educational and public health partners to hear first-hand from parents and educators about their experiences and concerns.

I have personally heard the concerns expressed by both parents and school leaders, which ranged from concerns about potentially lost academic progress, to anxiety about personal and family safety if returning to in-person instruction. These discussions, in combination with the latest science, provided the data we needed to develop a strategy for students to safely return to schools in different parts of the country, with varying classroom sizes and resources.

Guidelines for Reopening K-12 Schools

In February, we released the K-12 Operational Strategy for in-person instruction based on evidence that showed K-12 schools could operate safely for in-person instruction if they use layered prevention strategies. Prevention strategies that are layered, or used together, provide the greatest protection against transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.

The CDC Strategy encourages students, faculty, and staff in school settings to practice prevention behaviors by following these 5 key mitigation strategies:

  1. Universal and correct mask-wearing
  2. Physical distancing
  3. Hand washing and good respiratory etiquette
  4. Cleaning to maintain healthy facilities
  5. Diagnostic testing with rapid and efficient contact tracing, in combination with isolation and quarantine, and collaboration with local health departments

In addition, when CDC released the K-12 Operational Strategy, we noted that the science of COVID-19 is rapidly evolving and we would update our recommendations when new evidence became available. As more studies were published and CDC scientists analyzed the available evidence on physical distancing, it was clear there was ample evidence to update CDC’s recommendations for physical distancing between students in classrooms with universal mask use.

Based on evolving evidence, last week, CDC issued its updated guidance for physical distancing with recommendations for various settings of K-12 education.

  • Elementary schools: Students should remain at least three feet apart in classrooms while wearing a mask, regardless of the level of COVID-19 spread in the community.
  • Middle and high schools: Students should remain at least three feet apart in classrooms while wearing a mask, when community spread of COVID-19 is low, moderate or substantial.
  • For middle and high schools in communities with high spread of COVID19: Students should remain at least six feet apart, unless cohorting is possible.
  • Community settings outside the classroom or in any situation when unmasked: Everyone should maintain at least six feet apart.

A Shared Effort

Getting our children back to school for in-person instruction is a critical step in turning the corner on this pandemic, and partnerships with key stakeholders in education, government and the community are helping schools make this transition. CDC is providing guidance, tools and resources to our educational and public health partners and collaborating through webinars, conferences and other engagements to increase understanding of the operational strategy for K-12 schools and to support schools as they integrate CDC’s recommendations into their schools’ planning.

CDC also recently announced it was providing $10 billion to support COVID-19 diagnostic and screening testing for teachers, staff and students. In addition, CDC’s K-12 Operational Strategy identifies vaccination as an additional layer of prevention that can be added to the five key mitigation strategies. CDC has been working with our federal retail pharmacy partners to prioritize the vaccination of K-12 teachers, staff and childcare workers during the month of March. I am happy to report that our pharmacy partners have vaccinated more than 1.3 million educators, staff, and childcare workers so far, and more than 550,000 of these vaccinations were in the last week alone.  

Last week, at the National Summit on Safe School Reopening, I was able to connect virtually with representatives from the Department of Education and other government and non-governmental organizations to hear from school districts across the country about their challenges and successes in reopening. I was so encouraged to hear about their efforts and the innovations they are implementing in order to get kids back to in-person learning.

Real-World Experience, Science, and Evidence

My youngest son returned to hybrid school about a month ago, and he’s thrilled to be back. While I know many students are also looking forward to joining their peers in a classroom setting, I realize that the decision to have your child return to in-person learning is not an easy one. My hope for the future is based on real-world experience, science and evidence—and we now have that experience, science, and evidence as well as the resources to get our children back to school across the nation.


Rochelle P. Walensky, MD, MPH, is the 19th Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the ninth Administrator of the Agency for Toxic Substances and Disease Registry.

5 Steps to Maximize Your Fundraising During the Pandemic and Beyond

Can schools effectively fundraise this school year? Many parent groups are wondering if it’s possible or even appropriate to raise funds considering job losses and the fluctuation between virtual, hybrid and on-campus learning across the country. My own children’s school went through this consideration process as well. 

Beyond being on my children’s school board, and two other non-profit boards, I’m the President of Boosterthon, the nation’s largest elementary school fundraising organization. We’re famous for exceptionally successful, fun fitness event fundraisers. We’re proud to say that’s true even in these challenging times for schools. 

When COVID hit last spring and we strategized how to best help schools fundraise, I thought through a simple five step fundraising framework that would allow any organization to fundraise more strategically now and in the future.

As part of National PTA’s Learning Lab webinar series, I shared this framework in a more detailed video, as well as the bad news and the good news of fundraising. 

The good news: It’s not only possible to fundraise, it’s critical to fundraise this school year—and schools are doing it successfully, even in the current climate.

If the pandemic has made fundraising plans foggy for your school, use this framework to give you and your board clarity, so you can make better decisions moving forward.

So, why do schools/non-profits fundraise in the first place?

In short: their cause is greater than their capital. That is a good thing. I believe the pursuit of a good cause will always outpace your current resources. The desire for better learning, more resources, and an ever-improving educational environment requires resources. So, schools fundraise to make up for the gap between what they want to achieve and what they have. It starts with their cause.

Step 1. Cause

A school’s cause is the compelling purpose of their organization. The pandemic has actually made school causes even more important. Our country is facing the biggest educational crisis in modern history. The pandemic has shown our need for better access to technology, more aid for teachers, more need for mental and physical health support, and it has certainly created greater family needs in the school community. While the cause is greater for schools, the pandemic has made the capital feel father away because of job loss and distance learning.

Best practices during these times:

  • Show complete alignment as one school. Don’t distinguish between PTA initiatives and school initiatives.
  • Look ahead to needs for next school year. Don’t just focus on present needs. With looming budget cuts in the future, raise funds now for when states will hand out smaller budgets due to less taxes due to job loss.
  • Share stories of impact whenever you can.

Especially in virtual learning, schools need a reason to rally and support each other—which brings us to Step 2.

Step 2. Campaign

A school’s campaign is an event or activity that builds urgency and anticipation. Your campaign is your time-sensitive fundraiser. For Booster school partners, it’s their Boosterthon fundraiser—a week-long fundraising program that concludes with a fun Fun Run or Dance Fit event that every student gets to participate in. But a campaign could be a bake sale, a direct give campaign, a gala, or a read-a-thon. Whatever you pick, choose a campaign that people will enjoy and get behind.

Best practices during these times:

  • Link your fundraiser to a tangible school improvement. Stay away from “General PTA Budget.” Get specific.
  • Equip teachers with communication about your campaign to take work off of them and ensure alignment. 
  • Ensure every student can participate. This is especially true for virtual learners. We’re proud that our virtual Boosterthon Dance Fit event allows virtual and hybrid learners to be included in the fun.

Steps 3 & Step 4. Campaigners & Channels

Campaigners are committed and connected individuals who multiply your campaign. These are the people who donate or share about your campaign with others. Identify who these people are. Are they school parents? Local businesses? School families’ extended family and friends? 

Channels are the platforms you use to engage these people. Ensure you have a communication strategy that reaches campaigners consistently on your channels—Facebook, email, Remind, etc. Be creative and varied in your communication. Try written, video, and visual communication to keep people’s attention. We recommend starting your communication several weeks in advance of your fundraiser so you can build anticipation for your event. People need time to learn about your campaign, how to participate, and follow through with giving.

Best practices during these times:

  • Families are 53% more likely to share about your fundraiser than last year. Change your call to action to campaigners from “give to our fundraiser” to “share about our fundraiser with others.”
  • Make it easy and fun for donors to give. People are used to high-performing, nicely designed mobile platforms. Select a fundraising software that makes it fast for people to donate.
  • Make it easy for families to share. It multiplies your fundraising efforts when families can share on social media, text message and email. In fact, families are 80% more likely to ask three or more people to donate than they were last year.

Step 5. Capital

Capital is the financial support for your cause. When you put everything together, from championing your cause, picking a campaign, communicating with your campaigners through various channels, the capital follows. 

Best practices during these times:

  • Corporate matching is up 10% this year. Find a fundraiser that offers corporate matching so that you can take advantage of generous programs from large organizations.
  • Add local business sponsorships. Do not be afraid to ask for support from your community partners. Find out ways you can help them as well. A true partnership is mutually beneficial.

If anything, use this five step framework as a fundraising diagnostic with your PTA Board and assess how you are doing in each of these areas to ultimately raise enough capital for your cause. Plus, you can use this downloadable fundraising checklist to help you plan for and determine the right fundraiser for your school.

Booster has made significant adjustments in each of these areas over the last school year to make our school partners as successful as possible. It’s why our school partners will end up profiting more than $41 million for education even during these difficult times.

If your board is interested in learning more about hosting a fun, flexible and successful Boosterthon fundraiser, we’d love to chat!

Arlington Science Focus School Virtual Family STEM Night 2021

Think you can’t host a family fun night while remote learning? Think again! Arlington Science Focus School, an elementary school in Arlington, Va., hosted its first-ever Virtual Family STEM Night Wednesday, Feb. 17.

The event went off without a hitch thanks to ASFS Investigation Station Lead, Stephanie Lin, the 2020 NOVA District PTA Educator of the Year, and a team of volunteers made up of ASFS teachers, parents, local high school students, and community partners.

Kindergarten through fifth-grade families were able to connect with one another and enjoy an evening of virtual STEM activities and live presentations, all from home. Students joined Microsoft Teams calls to listen to live presenters, watch demonstrations, and participate in a variety of science and engineering stations.

Thanks to the support of the ASFS PTA, families were able to pick up STEM Night supply kits with bags of simple materials needed for each of the experiments, and many of the activities could be completed with supplies found at home.

Some of the night’s highlights included hands-on activities, such as:

  • Building Index Card Towers
  • Creating Ocean Sculptures from recycled materials
  • Building a LED Copper Tape Flashlight
  • Making a Balloon-Powered Boat with a sponge, straw and balloon
  • Creating Underwater Fireworks with oil and food coloring
  • Experimenting with Paper Cup Constellations using a flashlight
  • Making music in the Chrome Music Lab

The event also featured presentations and demonstrations, including:

  • Astronomy presentations by a speaker from NASA
  • ASFS First Lego League Robotics Team demonstration
  • Reptile and amphibian presentation by a nature center representative
  • Space shuttle simulation with the ASFS student Tech Crew
  • STEM career talks by a Bioinformaticist, Computer Scientist, Environmental Engineer, Forester and Sustainability Analyst

Although the virtual experience was not the same as the annual science fair typically held at school, it was great to see so many families engaging and participating in this school-wide event and enjoying STEM in this virtual world.

Two of the most popular STEM activities from the night were National PTA STEM @ Home activities: STEM @ Home Experiment 2: Ballon Boat and STEM @ Home Experiment 5: Copper Tape Flashlights. For the Balloon Boat, many students filled up their sinks or bathtubs with water and enjoyed watching their boats travel. Siblings loved racing their boats against each other. With the Copper Tape Flashlight, students were amazed that the LED light could light up with simple household materials, and they loved how bright it was!

Interested in hosting your own virtual STEM night? Check out National PTA’s STEM @ Home page for more information.

ASFS Family STEM Night Photos

It’s Not Too Late To PTA!

It’s been a school year like no other. Many schools remain closed, offer hybrid attendance or are open one day and closed the next due to increased cases of COVID-19 in the community. But PTAs don’t need a school building to support their families!

Are you still PTA/PTSA-ing in your school communities? Kids, families, teachers, principals and schools need your PTA more than ever this year. Your PTA can play a key role in helping support your school community in these tough times. It’s not too late to PTA this school year!

If you had a slow start to your PTA year, renew your efforts in 2021. For many, if COVID-19 has meant the needs of your school community have changed, have your PTA refocus on responding to—and supporting—those needs. Everyone has learned so much about how to communicate in a virtual world, so put those new skills to work.

Want a chance to win prizes for your PTA? There are questions embedded throughout this blog. Enter the answers at the end of the blog to be entered in a raffle to win prizes for your PTA.

Supporting Your Community—Virtually

As a PTA leader, determine what is a necessity versus what may need to wait till next school year. Are the event/activities/programs previously hosted by your PTA/PTSA still relevant this year? Can they be revamped to address the new needs of your community or is something new needed that better addresses those needs? It’s never too late to start serving your families and community.

If your PTA has been actively advocating for the children of your community and has been holding virtual or hybrid event(s), programs or community outreach, let your community know your PTA is fighting for all the children and families of your community.

Promote your activities via Facebook, Instagram, newsletters, etc. so people know what your PTA is doing. It’s important to continually ask whether your community knows why your PTA is valuable to them. Check out the new Membership Campaign customizable graphics and messaging that you can use to promote your PTA with an ask to join.

Create a membership campaign that will resonate with your community by highlighting the help you are providing your community and ask people to join, support or invest your PTA so you can continue your work.

The COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed how PTA/PTSAs communicate, grow and accomplish the PTA mission within their school communities. PTA members tell us what they value the most about their membership is networking/connection their PTA provides for all families, the way PTA enhances education and the avenue PTA provides for them to have a voice in what is happening in their school and community. There is still time to virtually provide these types of benefits for your PTA members.

How to Run Your PTA/PTSA in the Virtual World

In response to the new needs of PTA/PTSAs, National PTA has developed several resources in the past year to help your PTA be virtual and thrive in this new PTA world.

Question 1: What are 3 of the 5 PTA Values? (hint)

Networking: Learn from your peers virtually

In these times, staying connected is key. Join the PTA Local Leaders Facebook group to instantly share, chat, collaborate, connect and learn from other leaders like you across the country. You should also sign up for National PTA newsletters.

Check with your state, region, district or council PTA to find out if there other networking opportunities in your local community.

Question 2: Do you need a school building to PTA?

Virtual National PTA Programs

National PTA offers several different programs for PTAs. In fact, with the pandemic in mind, we have revamped our programs and launched PTA Programs at Home, which are completely customizable to the needs of your school community. The programs have options for real-time (your PTA will host a virtual event), at your own pace (families will watch recorded videos and follow along), and tech-free.

  • STEM + Families Science Festivals at Home: By hosting a National PTA STEM + Families Science Festival program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on science activities. Help all kids and families experience and explore activities and be inspired to pursue careers in STEM!
  • STEM + Families Propelling Our World at Home: By hosting our NEW National PTA STEM + Families Propelling Our World program, your PTA will provide amazing opportunities for families to participate in shared, hands-on activities that will build science, technology, engineering and math skills.
  • PTA Connected Smart Talk Program at Home: As children spend more time online in this COVID world, are parents in your community looking for resources to keep their children safe on the internet? Consider hosting The Smart Talk Conversation.
  • Healthy Hydration Program at Home: Although our day-to-day lives have changed, drinking water is no less important! Check out this program to help families make healthier choices this year.

Don’t reinvent the wheel, just realign the available resources from National PTA to fit the needs of your school community. Check in with your State PTA as well to see if they have additional resources.

Connect with your school community

Staying connected to your PTA members is very important. Without staying connected, how will you know the needs of your community? The needs today might be different than the needs a few months down the road, especially in these times. You do not need to be the experts because your PTA can partner with other non-profits or other community organizers to bring resources to support your families. Send out a survey using Facebook polls, Google forms, etc. to your community to find out what is most important to your PTA community now.

COVID-19 is hitting certain communities more than others. Reflect on the demographics of your school community. Communicate in the languages your families speak. If you are a community of Spanish speakers, National PTA offers many of our resources in Spanish on the National PTA website. How are you communicating with families with limited access to technology and the internet?

Question 3: Why do you PTA?

Let’s Do This!

Things have been constantly changing but your PTA can, and should, start planning now for the rest of the school year. Remember that saying … it’s better late than never. So don’t wait another minute! Start supporting your PTA families and community today.

Most people don’t join their local PTA for the simplest reason … because they were never asked! Now is the best time to start asking! Include an ask to join your PTA in all your messaging, at every event in person or virtual, social media postings and email communications. Brand everything you do with your PTA logo because if you don’t, how will people know it is your PTA who is bringing these valuable resources or programs? If you don’t have a logo, you can create one here in 30 seconds!

On behalf of National PTA, thank you for all you do to support children and families. We know the times are tough for everyone, but we want you to know that you’re doing an amazing job and we’re so #PTAProud of you! 

Pop Quiz Prize Entry

If you have answered all three questions in this blog, fill out this form.


Kirthana Krishnathasan is theMembership & Field Service Specialist for National PTA.

National PTA Demystifies School Funding

Do you feel intimidated by issues related to school funding and education finance? You are not alone. We surveyed parents and caregivers around the country and many shared that they feel clueless and frustrated by how difficult it is to find basic information.

In fact, less than a third (32%) of participants agreed they have a general understanding of how their child’s school district uses its funding. Even fewer (29%) agreed they know where to find information on school funding in their community.

School funding is too important of a topic for parents to sit on the sidelines. Families’ voices are critical to ensure that school budgets reflect a community’s needs and priorities for our students. With that in mind, National PTA has released several resources to help PTA leaders to learn more about school funding.

Listen to our podcast episodes featuring Dr. Marguerite Roza, Director of the Edunomics Lab.
In Money Talks: School Funding 101, Dr. Roza offered practical guidance on how families can stay informed about their school district’s financial decisions and how they can advocate for the priorities they care most about. In our COVID-19 bonus episode, she shared how the pandemic has impacted school finance and she advises how advocates can adapt during this challenging time.

Read our answers to the most frequently asked questions related to school funding.
Are you curious where the money for your child’s school comes from? Are you wondering who makes the decisions about how dollars get spent? Our guide to Understanding & Advocating for School Funding will provide those answers and more.

Register for our upcoming webinar, Understanding Families’ Perspectives on School Funding.
National PTA partnered with five council PTAs in Florida, Texas and Washington to learn more about families’ perspectives on school funding. After talking with more than 150 parents, we are ready to share our findings with you. Join us Tuesday, Feb. 23 at 8:00 p.m. EST to learn: 

What do families actually know about school funding? What areas do they feel are adequately or inadequately funded? And what are the implications of this for PTA leaders’ work advocating for all children?

Join us for a presentation of these research results and learn directly from a panel of PTA leaders about their own experiences advocating on issues related to school funding. Register now.

Let’s raise our PTA voice for better school funding and education finance! You can find the complete list of tools and resources mentioned here at PTA.org/SchoolFunding. All of these resources, including the upcoming webinar, are also available in Spanish.


Rebecca Bauer is the Family Engagement Specialist for National PTA.

National PTA Celebrates Look Within Reflections Artists

For over fifty years, the National PTA Reflections program has provided opportunities for recognition and access to the arts, which boost student confidence and success in the arts and in life. The arts program honors student creativity through six Reflections categories: Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography, and Visual Arts. 

In response to an annual theme, thousands of students across the country and in U.S. schools abroad submit artwork and can be recognized with awards and prizes at the local, county, district, region and then state PTA levels. Just over 200 students are recognized at a national level for their artistic achievements in the arts each year.   

At the national level, students can earn an Award of Merit, Award of Excellence, or Outstanding Interpretation Award. Each year, National PTA typically honors the national winners and their artwork with in-person events—including the Student Arts Showcase at the U.S. Department of Education. This year, due to COVID-19, National PTA hosted its first-ever Virtual Reflections Student Arts Showcase.  

Held January 26, the digital event brought Reflections supporters together to celebrate the national winners from the 2019-2020 Look Within program. The Showcase featured one national winner from each Reflections category and our Special Artist Division.

Representing the Dance Choreography category, Jacob Valadez kicked off the featured student artist performances. Jacob’s dance, “Look Within Yourself Be Unstoppable,” expresses the value of personal strength. Although life can be hard, Jacob demonstrates that everyone can be unstoppable by looking within and never giving up. We are grateful he shared this powerful sentiment with us. 

After Jacob, we enjoyed Matthew Bang’s visual arts piece, “I Realize and Recognize.” As the featured Special Artist, Matthew’s painting depicts his family’s Korean heritage and his own identity as a Korean American. Matthew shared, “Art is a form of expression. It allows me to convey emotions that are too difficult to express in words alone.” His detailed visual arts piece beautifully communicates a vast depth of meaning! 

Jiya Bhavsar wowed us with “Struggling Within Me.” Through her piano performance, Jiya represented the music composition category and showcased the power of perseverance. She explained, “I look within when I feel like ‘I give up’ and then I say, ‘Try again.’” We are all inspired by Jiya’s tenacity. 

As the featured artist for the photography category, Barbara Exilus’s photograph “Look Within” depicts the pressure that many young people feel when trying to achieve unrealistic beauty standards and social norms. Barbara shared, “I want my artwork to speak and touch people in any way it can.” Barbara truly conveyed a compelling message through her photograph. 

Melissa Qiu, the featured artist for the literature category, impressed with her poem, “Breaking the Silence and Filling the Minds.” Her writing details the beauty of the zither, which, Melissa shares is a “a very magical and traditional musical instrument because it has allowed me to look within myself and my Chinese culture.” We appreciate Melissa’s creative use of language to bridge musicmaking and her ancestral heritage.  

As the representative of the Visual Arts category, Katie Ross Nelson shared her wearable sculpture. Meticulously constructed, “The Swan” dress showcases fashion as a means of self-expression. Katie found inspiration from actor Billy Porter, who, by wearing a dress to the 2019 Oscars, “flipped the stereotype and made the dress a symbol of inner strength.” Thank you, Katie, for sharing your compelling work of art with us. 

The last featured artist, Dayton Kress, closed out the show with his film production. Titled “Within Us All,” Dayton demonstrates the power of compassion. He shared, “It is important to understand that we can all lift each other up in times of need. We all go through things, and sometimes we just need a little support along the way.” Dayton’s film shares a timeless message—be kind to one another!  

As our hosts for the evening, Leslie Boggs, National PTA President, and Nathan R. Monell, CAE, Executive Director of National PTA, expressed the value of the arts in a student’s education—especially in the era of COVID-19. Bonnie Carter, the Group Leader of Arts in Education Programs for the U.S. Department of Education, shared a congratulatory message to all Reflections participants. The Department of Education is a valuable supporter of the Reflections program, and we thank Bonnie for joining us virtually!

Our celebration of the arts continues with a virtual exhibit featuring the 200+ national Reflections winners from the 2019-2020 program. Take a moment to view the remarkable creative achievements of our program participants, ranging from detailed paintings in the visual arts category to graceful dance choreography movements. The artwork may encourage you to Look Within!  

Visit PTA.org/Reflections to learn more about Reflections and share your artwork with @NationalPTA using #PTAReflections. Missed the Showcase? Find the full program on National PTA’s YouTube channel


Sarah Scalet is the National PTA arts in education fellow. 

Collection: 2019-2020 Look Within National PTA Reflections Award Recipients (flickr.com)

You’re Invited! Join us for the 2021 Virtual Legislative Conference

Happy New Year! It seems like just yesterday that we were all gathered at the Westin in Old Towne Alexandria for the 2020 Legislative Conference. PTA Advocates were on Capitol Hill the last day it was opened to the public before the pandemic. So much has happened since then.

PTA has been busy advocating for COVID relief and a safe reopening of schools, as well as for funding and support for remote learning, child nutrition, social and emotional learning and broadband access for all. We have been affected deeply by the escalated racism and echoed the calls for social justice. Our political climate has been tumultuous and uncertain. PTA has been at the forefront of these issues.

2021 is a new year with new beginnings. In March, we will build on our advocacy efforts over the last year by hosting National PTA’s first-ever Virtual Legislative Conference, March 9-11. Our annual Legislative Conference (known fondly as LegCon) has always been my favorite event because it is PTA’s opportunity to use our voices to improve the lives of children and families. Advocacy is at the core of our association’s mission and vision. Our legacy in advocacy started almost 125 years ago, when our founders organized over 2,000 parents to speak on behalf of children and continued to lead the way in improving their lives. Through our members’ resilience and persistent commitment to advocacy, National PTA has played an integral role in landmark federal education legislation and policies.

At this year’s Virtual Legislative Conference, we will continue to empower the voices of our members towards making every child’s potential a reality. This year our theme is “PTA Takes Action Together for Every Child” and we will do just that when our members all across the nation meet virtually with their Federal Representatives and Senators to do more to support, advance and protect our nation’s youth.

We are thrilled to be able to offer a Virtual Hill Day to our LegCon attendees Wednesday, March 10. Meetings with Members of Congress may look and feel different this year, but Hill meetings remain an enormously important advocacy tool. In fact, during COVID we have seen a 45% increase in offices that are willing to participate in video-webinars, and a 35% increase in Members of Congress who are participating in virtual meetings themselves. National PTA has partnered with Soapbox Consulting to help ensure that your experience meeting with members and staff is seamless. To that end, if you register for LegCon 2021 by Thursday, Feb. 4, 2021, you will be automatically signed up to participate in Hill day.

As a constituent in your home states, your grassroots perspective is extremely valuable to elected officials and their staff. During our Virtual Hill Day, you will be able to inform lawmakers about which federal programs are serving our children well and which ones are failing them. Federal policymakers work to improve the lives of children and families and they want to hear directly from the people they represent.  Never underestimate the power of your voice!

We all want to improve education! LegCon will be the time to call upon the newly elected 117th Congress to take action and let them know how they can make a difference in the lives of all children. Several resources will be provided to our PTA Advocates to guide them through their meetings with Members of Congress. The Legislative Committee is particularly excited about the National PTA Public Priorities for the 117th Congress, which you can preview on the PTA website.

In addition to the Virtual Hill Day, the 2021 National PTA Virtual Legislative Conference will also include world-class virtual advocacy training, including wonderful workshops and PTA Advocacy Spotlights, which highlight PTA advocacy success stories from across the nation. Attendees will also enjoy prominent keynote speakers, a mental health panel, and our annual PTA Advocacy Award Ceremony. There will also be an opportunity for all Federal Legislative Chairs (FLC) to collaborate and share with fellow FLCs in a live networking session.

Attending #PTALegCon is also about improving and sharpening your advocacy skills! Regardless of your level of advocacy knowledge, we will have something for everyone.  Not only will you have the opportunity to hear from policy experts during our Workshops, you will hear from your peers that are experts in diverse areas of advocacy. This will include relevant topics such as safe and supportive schools, public school funding, diversity and inclusion, coalition building, school data reporting, child nutrition, and climate control. These experts will guide you through the policy landscape and equip you with the knowledge and tools necessary to effectively advocate on these issues.

You will leave LegCon better prepared to engage in policy discussions with lawmakers, advocates and members of your community. We are confident you will use this valuable information in your states to feel fully self-reliant and ready to speak for every child with one voice!

My fellow PTA advocates, don’t delay! Come “meet” with policymakers and learn how to shape public policy on Capitol Hill and in your own state. Don’t miss this chance to expand your knowledge and have your voices heard. Join us! Register today at PTA.org/LegCon to attend.


Yvonne Johnson (Delaware) is the National PTA Vice President of Advocacy.

We Have a Winner! The Reflections Program’s Annual Theme Search is Complete

Did you know that students develop the Reflections program’s annual overarching theme? Each year, students from across the country and in U.S. schools abroad submit theme suggestions for a future Reflections program cycle. The Reflections Theme Search Contest’s winning theme goes on to inspire thousands of student artists. 

We are excited to announce that Jason Yevin, a 10th grader from Salk/Macarthur PTSA in New York, is the 2022-2023 Reflections Theme Search Contest winner! The 2022-2023 Reflections program theme will be … [drumroll please] … ‘Show Your Voice!’. Congratulations to Jason! 

To determine the 2022-2023 Reflections program’s theme, students submitted their most inventive ideas to their State PTAs. State PTAs then submitted up to five finalist themes to National PTA. In total, over 80 students from 20 states participated in the 2022-2023 Reflections Theme Search Contest. National PTA volunteer leaders led the judging process, and they faced the challenging task of selecting a winning theme that was unique and inspiring, and that promoted PTA values.  

‘Show Your Voice!’ rose to the top because of its relevance today and continued importance into the future. Jason explained the inspiration for his theme submission as follows:  

“Show Your Voice is a reference to what the year 2020 has become. At the time of writing the phrase, the Black Lives Matter protest was huge, and so was wearing masks during COVID-19. The phrase represents talking over the masks and it represents that the protesters showed their voice in what they believe was right and fair. 

Volunteer leaders from New York State PTA, Nassau Region PTA and Salt/Macarthur PTSA came together (in a socially distant manner), to surprise Jason with the news that he had won the National Reflections Theme Search Contest!  

In honor of Jason’s great accomplishment, he will receive national recognition and $100 from National PTA. During the 2022-2023 Reflections program, we look forward to seeing Reflections participants’ creative work inspired by ‘Show Your Voice!’ With his winning submission, Jason joins the ranks of just 54 students who have shaped the future of the Reflections program by determining the theme that guides an entire program cycle.  

Currently, the theme, ‘I Matter Because…’, is inspiring Reflections participants. In the fall of 2018, Rylee Stier, a first-grader from Burney Elementary School, submitted the theme for the 2020-2021 Reflections program after drawing inspiration from the devastating California wildfires affecting her community. With the call for meaningful steps to dismantle structural racism, ‘I Matter Because…’ has taken on new meaning and an even greater opportunity to engage and elevate the voices of students of color.  

In fact, National PTA has launched a new initiative to invite Reflections artists of color and their allies to share artwork that expresses and affirms their beliefs and identities. Select works will be used to help us celebrate diversity in the arts. Please share this opportunity with young artists in your state and upload artwork to this Google Form by March 1, 2021. National PTA will announce our national winners on May 1, 2021 and celebrate artwork inspired by ‘I Matter Because…’ through July 2021. 

We encourage all Reflections supporters to help shape the future of the Reflections program by participating in the annual Theme Search Contest. Visit your state PTA’s Reflections Program page to learn more about the Reflections program and the complete list of past themes. 

And don’t forget to share your artwork with @NationalPTA using #PTAReflections! 


Sarah Scalet is the National PTA arts in education fellow. 

PTA Elections Are Coming Soon! Are You Ready?

How does your state or local PTA prepare for the elections of new officers? You should first look at the bylaws of your PTA to see what they say. Under normal circumstances, there are usually two ways; one that has been used for years at your local PTA (this may be different than what your bylaws state) and the one that is designated through Robert’s Rules of Order that are the standard to use when your organization has not set up a process.

Timing is crucial! Set your date of the scheduled election meeting, based on your bylaws and work backwards to meet any and all requirements found there. If your bylaws establish a nominating process either through a nominating committee or board leadership, that group should assemble a list of diverse, willing and qualified candidates for office.

This can greatly benefit members when the time comes to select their leaders. If the committee does its job well, the membership can enjoy some basic assurance that the candidates nominated have at least expressed interest in the job, have agreed to serve, and are qualified for the offices for which they’re nominated.

For more information on Nominations and Elections see Robert’s Rules of Order Article 11-B, section 66 A. Nominations and section 66 B. Elections. Please contact your state PTA for additional assistance. 

If you’re a state PTA, please see further guidance in the State Resource Bank.

If you’re a local PTA, please check out our blog series with helpful tips on meeting virtually.

2021 Healthy Habit New Year’s Resolutions

Help minimize the spread of germs this new year

Even though the calendar has turned to a new year, COVID-19 is still a presence in our lives, and practicing healthy habits is as important as ever. So, this year, choose New Year’s resolutions that will help minimize the spread of illness-causing germs.

Lysol and National PTA recommend the following 2021 resolutions for the entire family:

  • Wash your hands often.
    Handwashing is one of the best ways to protect yourself from getting sick. Wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds and remember to lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails. Always wash your hands before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
  • Cover coughs and sneezes.
    Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Use the inside of your elbow if you do not have a tissue available. It is also important to wash your hands right after you cough, sneeze or blow your nose.
  • Avoid touching your face.
    Infection occurs when germs enter the body, increase in number, and cause a reaction to the body. Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.

If your children are learning in-person, encourage your school to use the Lysol Welcome Back Packs, so New Year’s resolution tips are not forgotten at school.

Welcome Back Packs are available for educators nationwide to download and print. They include fun and educational resources such as informative posters, fun activities, useful stickers templates and engaging lesson plans that encourage healthy habits such as handwashing, social distancing and wearing masks.

For more information on healthy habits and to download the Welcome Back Packs, please visit Lysol.com/HERE. Have a healthy new year!


Lysol is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA.