4 Back to School Tips for Parents

Practice healthy habits so we can be “stronger together” this back to school season!

Lysol and National PTA hope families everywhere enjoyed their summer vacation and the quality time that comes with it! This school year is the first time many students are back together at school following the COVID-19 pandemic. Children are stronger together in the classroom, so it’s important to follow the below healthy habits to help keep students at school, learning from teachers—and each other—this academic year:

  • Complete all health requirements: Schedule your annual checkups including medical, eye, and ear exams for your child, and ensure they are up to date with their immunizations. This will help ensure your child is ready for the school year.
  • Go to bed on time: We know bedtime can vary over the summer, but it’s important to get back on a regular sleep schedule to be energized and refreshed for the day. Students aged 6-12 should sleep 9-12 hours a night, while students aged 13-18 should aim for 8-10 hours a night. Sleeping the recommended length of time helps students stay focused and improves academic performance.1
  • Get the right supplies: Prepare your student for success by acquiring all school supplies early. Make a list to double check what you may already have at home and pick up everything your child needs to start the year. Each school year presents its own unique challenges, and the correct supplies can help your student be ready to tackle anything that comes their way.
  • Practice healthy habits: Lysol is proud to support healthy habits at home and in school through the Here for Healthy Schools initiative. Encourage teachers, administrators, and school leaders to utilize Lysol resources and downloadable activities on handwashing, germ transmission, and other valuable lessons available through the Healthy Habits Program. Practicing healthy habits can help curb the spread of illness-causing germs in classrooms and support a successful school year!

Healthy habits are important to instill in children so they can feel their best as they come together at school. This year, Lysol captured candid conversations from real students who shared who they really are and said what they really think on topics such as celebrating differences, what they missed about school, and more. Please visit Lysol.com/HERE to watch and learn more.

6 Essential Back-to-School Supplies

Your average school supply list contains the usual suspects: No. 2 pencils, glue sticks, plus folders in every color of the rainbow. But these are just a few of the tools that fuel success in the classroom. Teachers and students need other items you might not immediately think of—and that might be missing from your classroom supply lists. 

PTAs can help source school supplies in a number of ways. Whether you DIY or delegate to a third-party vendor, PTA leaders can work to ensure each classroom list is complete. Here are six items worth considering (and why!).

1. Hand sanitizer and hand soap – As we emerge from the COVID-19 pandemic, healthy habits are a must. Students are encouraged to wash their hands several times throughout the day, especially before mealtimes. Hand soap is most useful for classrooms with their own sinks, while hand sanitizer can get the job done when soap and water aren’t readily available. Either way, students go through these items quickly—which is why it’s important to make sure they never run out.

2.  Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol® Disinfectant SprayDisinfecting wipes and sprays from Lysol are essential to help prevent the spread of illness-causing germs and tackle unexpected messes in the classroom. For peace of mind, many teachers disinfect high-touch classroom surfaces like desktops, doorknobs and light switches daily. Include these products on every class’s back-to-school supply list, and you’ll ensure a steady supply through cold-and-flu season and beyond.

3. Sandwich bags – Sandwich bags (ideally with zip-top closure) are super-handy for distributing individual portions of snacks, manipulatives or craft supplies. If students need to pause mid-way through an activity, they are perfect for storing loose pieces until the following day. Sandwich baggies are also useful for securing items that become broken or lost, such as a piece of jewelry or even a baby tooth that comes out during the school day! The list goes on, which is why every classroom should have a stock of sandwich bags (and reuse them as much as possible).

4. Pencil pouches – It’s all too easy for backpacks, desks and lockers to become littered with small school items. Students need an easy way to corral their writing implements, pencil sharpeners and such. Teachers tend to prefer pencil pouches to pencil boxes because they are more durable and less bulky—plus, they often sport loops to fit into three-ring binders.  

5. Earbuds – Technology has an ever-growing presence in the classroom, with many students using school-issued tablets or laptops. Earbuds are a great alternative to traditional headphones because they take up less room. When each student has their own pair of earbuds, they can easily make the switch to independent learning with their devices. Even if your school provides a pair of earbuds, it doesn’t hurt to buy extra, in case they become misplaced.

6. Academic planner – It’s never too early to help kids learn organization and time-management—and for young digital natives, a paper planner or personal organizer can be just the tool they need. Consider putting academic planners on the list for older students who can write proficiently, generally late elementary school and beyond. With an academic planner they can track homework assignments, upcoming tests and other important information (and relish the joy of crossing off those to-dos!). The ideal planner offers weekly and monthly views of their schedule, with the ability to customize school subjects. But many students enjoy the opportunity to pick the academic planner that works best for them.

A thoughtful school supply list captures everything teachers and students need to thrive in the classroom. Take a look at yours and see what items may need to be added—to ensure a fun, productive and healthy year for your entire school community.

Lysol is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA. This article contains sponsored content from third parties.National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.

4 Ways Your PTA Can Simplify School Supplies

From crayons to calculators, students rely on a steady stream of school supplies to make it through the academic year. But securing these items can be a challenge for teachers and parents, especially when supply lists are long and they differ from grade to grade, even from classroom to classroom.

That’s where PTA leaders can step in to support teachers, facilitate student learning and make life easier for families. And no matter how your PTA chooses to get involved, this is also an opportunity to check that your classroom lists include all the essentials, including commonly overlooked items like Lysol® Disinfecting Wipes and Lysol® Disinfectant Spray. If your PTA is looking to help with school supplies, here are four models to consider.

1. Buy in Bulk

How It Works: With teacher supply lists in hand, your PTA can take on the lion’s share of the work by purchasing the necessary items in bulk, either in person or online. Once the supplies arrive, PTA members sort, assemble and distribute the school supply kits to every classroom.

How It’s Funded: In late spring or early summer, the PTA asks for contributions from each family (typically $20 to $45 per student, which is less than they would pay to buy the school supplies themselves). Parents can even make a tax-deductible donation to help cover supplies for those who are unable to pay. Any leftover money can be applied to the PTA general fund, and surplus supplies can be stored for the next school year.

Why PTAs Like It: Not only does this approach reduce much of the burden for teachers and parents, it also opens up short-term PTA volunteer opportunities for people who like to bargain-hunt or who only have a few hours to spare. Another bonus: Every student gets the same brand of markers, folders and so on—thereby leveling the playing field.

2. Work with a Wholesaler

How It Works: A growing number of companies will partner with schools to provide turnkey school supply kits, customized by grade. The PTA takes on the role of hiring and managing the third-party vendor, seeking teacher input and promoting the service to families. The completed kits are shipped to student homes—or, better yet, directly to the school so teachers can set everything up before the first day of class.

How It’s Funded: Parents order their supply kits online from the company (or opt out, if they prefer). Often, your PTA can receive a portion of the proceeds from each box sold.

Why PTAs Like It: “Parents love the ease of school supply shopping in just a few clicks. Long gone are the days of hitting up multiple stores to find specific items,” says Jennifer Finnegan, who manages the school supply program on behalf of Haycock Elementary PTA in Falls Church, Va. “The Haycock PTA is happy to provide this convenience, and it’s an easy win for the entire school community. ”

3. Funnel Funds to Teachers

How It Works: Classroom teachers know what they need to support their lessons plans, and they often have brand preferences, too. That’s why some PTAs choose to hold an annual classroom supply fundraising campaign. Then, teachers get to do all the shopping.

How It’s Funded: Families pay into a fund dedicated to school supplies. Some PTAs suggest a per-student contribution, while others follow a pay-what-you-can model. Either way, your PTA may choose to subsidize the fund as needed. The money then gets divided among classroom and specialty teachers, who purchase exactly what’s needed for their students for the entire year.

Why PTAs Like It: This approach gives teachers ultimate control over their classroom supplies, while again saving families time and ensuring equity among students. Meanwhile, kids still get to pick out their highly personal items like backpacks, lunch boxes and water bottles.

4. Close the Gaps

How It Works: Whether or not you pursue one of the options above, your PTA can further help teachers by setting up a grant program to reimburse them for any out-of-pocket expenses, up to a maximum amount (typically $100 to $250) per school year.

How It’s Funded: Your PTA may include this reimbursement program as a line item in your annual budget. Be sure to stipulate which kinds of purchases are eligible (defer to your PTA bylaws and guidelines) as well as the process for submitting receipts.

Why PTAs Like It: There is no question that too many teachers spend too much of their own money on snacks, crafts and other classroom supplies. PTAs can help teachers pay for qualified educational expenses when school budgets and supply lists don’t quite cover it.

Sourcing school supplies is just one more way your PTA can support teachers, parents and students—and help your entire community get off to a strong start each fall.

Here’s to another fantastic school year!

Lysol is a Proud National Sponsor of National PTA. This article contains sponsored content from third parties.National PTA does not endorse any commercial entity, product or service.

5 Tips for Keeping Your Child Safe From COVID at School

Children everywhere are heading back to school and in-person learning. It’s important to keep in mind that many communities continue to be affected by the COVID pandemic.

As of August 22, the risk that COVID poses—based on how many people are getting infected and need hospital care—is medium to high in more than 75% of communities nationwide.

Here are 5 ways to keep your child safe from COVID as they head back to school.

1. Get your child vaccinated as soon as possible

Vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect your child from the dangers of COVID.

Since vaccines became available, people of all ages—including children—who are up to date with their COVID vaccines have been less likely than unvaccinated people to get very sick from COVID.

Everyone 6 months or older should get vaccinated. Find COVID vaccines near you at vaccines.gov.

2. Keep your child home when they’re sick

If your child has COVID or COVID-like symptoms, they should stay home from school to reduce their chances of spreading the virus to others.

If your child tests positive for COVID, follow the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidance on when and how long to isolate.

3. Test to prevent spreading COVID to others

You should test your child for COVID immediately if they have symptoms.

If your child was exposed to someone with COVID and doesn’t have symptoms, wait at least 5 days to test them. You may get an incorrect result if you test them too soon after exposure.

If your child tests positive, that means they’re infected with COVID. They should isolate, and you should tell everyone they’ve recently had close contact with, to avoid spreading the virus to others.

4. Wear a mask

Regardless of whether your child is vaccinated, they should wear a mask around others at school when the risk that COVID poses to your community is high.

If your child has been exposed to COVID, they should wear a mask around others at school for 10 days following exposure.

Don’t send your child to school if they have COVID. But if they do go to school with COVID-like symptoms or develop symptoms while at school, they should wear a mask around others.

5. Encourage your child to wash their hands often

Handwashing removes germs from one’s hands. It helps prevent getting infections and spreading infectious diseases to others.  

Encourage your child to wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Handwashing is especially important:

  • After you blow your nose, cough, or sneeze
  • Before and after you eat
  • After you use the restroom
  • After recess or playtime with others

If your child doesn’t have soap and water, they can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Children 5 and younger should only use hand sanitizer with adult supervision.

Four Tips for Leading with Diversity, Equity and Inclusion in Mind

Talking about diversity, equity and inclusion is the first step but to walk the walk, we need to look intentionally at different approaches and perspectives. Before you dive in, step zero is finding what motivates your diversity, equity and inclusion work. 

Checking Your Practices and Your Privilege 

Now that we reconnected with our why. Let us go and check our practices. We need to try them all and find the ones that are the best practices for our community. Yes, what works for my area might not work for yours, but if we need, we can adjust it or move to another practice. Once we find those best practices, we need to adopt and document them to help our PTA grow.  

It can be challenging to examine our privilege, but we need to understand what got us here, what we earned, and what we didn’t. We need to think about what we have and what we can give or start for the community. We need to consider when we make unconscious assumptions. Recognize talent and potential are equally distributed, but opportunity is not. 

Reducing Unconscious Bias 

To reduce our unconscious bias, we need to be aware of what it is and how it can affect the people around us. Our values, family experiences, culture, and experiences are huge factors in how we see, judge, and categorize others and ourselves. We need to question ourselves and the group we work with. Ask yourself: What evidence do I have? Is my opinion based on the truth? Is this always true? With this information, we can start creating inclusive practices for our events (meetings, programs, fundraisers, etc.).  

Creating a Welcoming Space 

Our greetings and acknowledgment are vital to setting the tone. A smile and cheerful hi make a difference. Move around. Don’t always sit with the same group. Make it a conscious decision to shift where your board members sit every so often. It says a lot when we are playing on our cellphones during meetings! If we disagree with something, we should provide constructive feedback rather than giving a negative response. If you are the lead for the event, ask for everyone’s opinion. We need to create a supportive dialogue where we acknowledge feelings and clarify our conversation so we can avoid assumptions. Be open to challenging questions and situations and make sure the final decision is balanced. 

Developing Leaders for Lasting Impact 

Dive into the data. In our PTA world, it doesn’t matter if 30% of your board is from minority groups if we don’t provide the opportunity to grow as leaders. Acknowledging intersectionality is important, highlighting invisible or layered identities of our community. Recognize that unconscious bias requires mitigation, not only training. Take the time, not the easy shortcut, and recognize non-linear experiences. We, as a group, need to explore the evidence, find a solution for all to move forward, and make sure to act.  

Add ‘Get My Child Vaccinated Against COVID’ to Your Summer Plans

Great news: Our younger kids can now get vaccinated against COVID!

After a thorough review of the safety and effectiveness data from the clinical trials, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration authorized COVID vaccines for children ages 6 months through 4 years. That means that everyone as young as 6 months in the United States can now get the protection of a COVID vaccine.

Parents and guardians have been eagerly awaiting this news. Since the pandemic began, over 130,000 children under age 18 have been hospitalized and nearly 1,500 have died. This year, kids under 5 years old have been more likely than older kids to be hospitalized with COVID.

Also, as many as 1 in 4 children who get COVID experience long COVID, in which they have new or lingering symptoms that last for weeks or months after infection.

Many kids are also getting multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare but serious illness caused by COVID that involves painful swelling in different parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, and brain. Over 8,500 children with COVID have also had MIS-C; 69 of those children have died.

There’s no way to predict how COVID will affect your child if they get it. They might be one of the lucky ones and just have the sniffles, but the risk for more severe illness is very real. Even perfectly healthy children can get very sick from COVID. One study found that almost half of children ages 0–17 who’ve been hospitalized with COVID had no other health issues. That proportion was even higher among children under 5, according to another study

Vaccination is the best thing you can do to protect your child from the dangers of COVID

Since vaccines became available, people in all age groups, including children, who are up to date with their COVID vaccines have been less likely to test positive, be hospitalized, and die from COVID than unvaccinated people. Vaccinated people are also less likely to get MIS or MIS-C and long COVID.

There are two different vaccines available for children. The number of doses your child needs depends on their age and which vaccine they get. See the table below for details.

If your child is male and age 12 or older, they may benefit from waiting longer between the 1st and 2nd vaccine doses. Talk to your health care or vaccine provider. 

Once your child is up to date with their COVID vaccines, you can send them to school and to play with others, confident that they have the best possible protection against COVID.

Where to find COVID vaccines for children

COVID vaccines for kids are available at pediatricians’ and other doctors’ offices, community health centers, rural health clinics, children’s hospitals, public health clinics, local pharmacies, and other community-based organizations.

To find free COVID vaccines for your child, talk to your child’s pediatrician or your family doctor. You can also find vaccines for children near you at vaccines.gov.

Congratulations to National PTA’s Outstanding Interpretation Awardees!

Thousands of young artists from across the country participated in the 2021-2022 National PTA Reflections program by creating original works of art in response to the student-selected theme: I Will Change the World By….

Winning student artworks advanced from the local PTA level to the district, region, council, state and, ultimately, to the national level. This year, National PTA received over 900 student submissions from 47 State PTA Congresses.

Credential arts professionals conducted two rounds of blind review to determine the 200+ students who received national-level recognition for their artistic accomplishments. Just seven students earned the program’s top honor: the Award of Outstanding Interpretation. They were selective because of their distinctive interpretation of the theme, creativity and technical skills.

Each Outstanding Interpretation awardee represents one of the Reflections program’s six arts categories and the Special Artist division, which include Dance Choreography, Film Production, Literature, Music Composition, Photography and Visual Arts. Reflections encourages students with disabilities to fully participate in the program by welcoming young artists to enter through the Special Artist division.

We are excited to introduce this year’s exemplary Award of Outstanding Interpretation recipients!

Oviya Gowder–Dance Choreography
James Clemens High School PTSA, Alabama

Oviya conveyed a powerful message in her dance choreography, Save The Children. The piece addresses human trafficking and its threat to young adults. To set the tone for her work, her artist statement begins with a quote from author Edward Everett Hale: “I am only one, but I am one. I can do something. And because I cannot do everything, I will not refuse to do the something that I can do.” She continues to demonstrate the power of one’s actions to prevent tragedy by learning to recognize signs of human trafficking.

The artwork earned top marks because of Oviya’s original interpretation of the theme. She shares, “The Reflections contest gave me a platform to raise awareness about something that is not usually brought up or talked about. My career interest lies in the pediatrics area, and this inspired me to create a piece revolving around the safety of children.”

Yasmeen Fas–Film Production
Green Township PTA, New Jersey

Yasmeen’s film production Reduce, Reuse and Recycle incorporates careful research to demonstrate how individuals can save our planet. In her artist statement, she explains, “What is something that we all can do to help our planet? The answer is: Recycling!” The video includes compelling statistics, such as the fact that energy saved from recycling a glass bottle is equivalent to powering a lightbulb for up to 4 hours.

To explain her inspiration for the work, Yasmeen shares, “When walking my dog around the neighborhood I noticed some trash on grassy areas, behind the buildings, along sidewalks and around drains on the streets. I didn’t like what I saw, so I went home, grabbed a trash bag and picked it all up. I really wanted to show that even a small thing like that could help keep our neighborhood clean. Imagine if everyone did the same, then it would change our environment for the best!”

Dao Nguyen–Literature
Castillero Middle School PTA, California

Dao’s poem, titled Dandelion, reflects the beauty of one’s individual power. Her artist statement details this concept: “The world is a big place, and I know that being only one person in it can be daunting for young people like myself. So Dandelion is a poem about how even if you’re just one human, you can still have an effect on this world through what I believe is most important to share with other people—your passion, ideas, and stories.”

Dao shared nature’s influence on her writing. She explains, “Plants like dandelions spread their seeds around the world so they can continue to grow, even in unexpected places. [It’s] like how you can share your knowledge and creativity, so it inspires other people.” Dao notes another influence on her writing is the future reader’s perception. She notes that metaphors and analogies can be used “to connect the dots like you’re painting a picture so the reader understands your message.” Read Dao’s poem.

James Jordan–Special Artist, Music Composition
Syracuse High School PTSA, Utah

James’ thoughtful introspection stood out with his music composition piece, Change the World Right. In his artist statement, James explains, “The lyrics in the song explain how changing the world can be a positive or negative impact on others and yourself. It’s important to reflect on change because you can make decisions that could be influential and beneficial for others to learn and experience. The story behind the lyrics is how I overcame challenges in my life and adapted to a changing world.”

The song’s significance is deeply personal to James. He notes the challenges he has faced, sharing, “I struggled with autism for many years in school.” Yet, that he is “clever and artistic” and has harnessed the power of the arts to express himself. James explains, “This song is a puzzle piece of my life that will remind me of the inspiration I had to change the world. This year’s Reflections taught me that inspiration could come from anywhere and whatever happens next is a world with you in it.”

Listen to James’s song.

Sonia Singh–Music Composition
Acadia PTA, New York

Sonia shares a compelling melody with her musical composition, Rainbow. In her artist statement, she shares, “My composition, Rainbow, relates to the theme I Will Change The World By… through spreading the message that we can build a better tomorrow. Recent times have been very trying and there has been very little light in the world. Through my uplifting songs, I will help people see that there is always a way to make their lives brighter. Even if things seem bleak, we can bring out the light from inside us and together make a rainbow for everyone.”

The song allowed Sonia to convey a powerful moment in time. She shared, “I wrote this song after the worst of COVID-19 when things were starting to open up and we finally had hope for the future. In the past, there have been plenty of setbacks for us as people but I’ve realized that what matters is that we always get up again and never stop fighting.”

Listen to Sonia’s song.

Arsal Shaur–Photography
County Parkway PTA, New York

Arsal’s photograph, I Can Change the World by Enlightening Others with Knowledge, conveys a message that is near and dear to the mission of National PTA. In his artist statement, Arsal explains, “I am grateful that I have the opportunity to get an education. There are many children in the world who cannot get and afford to have a basic education. I can change the world by spreading knowledge. I can raise my voice so that every child in the world can have a basic education, at least.”

The details in the photograph further the artwork’s significance. Arsal notes that “the book in the photograph represents knowledge and the brightness in the background shows the light which knowledge brings in our lives.”

Jasmine Roldan–Visual Arts
Hicksville High School PTSA, New York

Jasmine’s detailed visual arts piece is titled Say Their Names. In her artist statement, she writes, “As a female of color in America living in such corrupt times, I hope to change the world by advocating for civil rights. All the people displayed on this piece have been subject to unjust violence leading to their deaths. Their names written within the word ‘EQUALITY’ correspond to their faces. Some of them were grandmothers to their grandchildren, track stars, or as young as 10 years old. Say their names. By doing just that, you too can change the world.”

To further highlight her inspiration for the work, Jasmine explains, “I create art to show just how much people, ideas, things matter to me. Their lives matter along with those, including myself, that look like them. I hope to ignite a spark within everyone to reflect on what they can do to be the change they want to see in the world.”

Congratulations to our I Will Change the World By… Outstanding Interpretation winners! We look forward to recognizing your achievements at the 2022 Virtual Outstanding Interpretation Reflections Winners Celebration, which will be available on National PTA’s YouTube channel July 21, 2022.   

For more inspiration, please visit PTA.org/ReflectionsAwards to find the official Reflections awards announcement, the complete list of the 200+ student winners, and our digital gallery of student works. Stay connected to National PTA on social media (@NationalPTA and #PTAReflections) as we continue to recognize and celebrate student talents throughout the year.

How PTA Leaders are Supporting LGBTQ+ Youth

Across the nation, states are seeing a dramatic rise in anti-LGBTQ sentiment, and particularly anti-transgender legislation. LGBTQ+ youth need PTAs to help protect their rights and stand up to bigotry. As we celebrate PRIDE month, here are stories of PTA leaders who are using their influence to support and celebrate LGBTQ+ youth.  

Celebration & Allyship in Round Rock, Texas 

As students at Canyon Vista Middle School returned to school following the COVID-19 school closures, teachers noticed an increase in acts of bias including the use of slurs against LGBTQ+ students. To address this increasingly hostile environment and to help LGBTQ+ students feel supported, the Gender and Sexuality Alliance (GSA) club set out to host their first annual pride parade in 2021. PTA president Aidan Larson got involved, partnering with teachers and GSA sponsors, including Paige Crain, to create safer spaces for LGBTQ+ students in their school.  

Their activism wasn’t free of pushback. Historically, the environment had been hostile, with educators opposing the use of rainbow safe space stickers in their school. Paige and the other sponsors didn’t let that stop them. With the PTA working hand in hand with Paige and the GSA, they marched forward with their plans to host the celebration. 

The 2021 Pride parade was a success, engaging folks from across the school district and a variety of exhibitors. The team had recruited a variety of partners including the Texas Freedom Network, Out Youth, and a local church who came to distribute pride flags. While families from around the district showed up, there was not universal support. 

To ensure the 2022 Pride parade could take place without issue, the PTA again partnered with the GSA. Aidan also met with the school principal to show support for the GSA’s ideas for Pride week.  

When a neighboring middle school PTA promoted Canyon Vista’s Pride parade, not only did executive board members voice their opposition, several resigned due to their discomfort. The PTA president stood her ground, understanding the importance of supporting LGBTQ+ youth. She even managed to find a silver lining to the situation. “It was a lot of pushback,” she shared, “but I think the important part is [that] it made room for people to see that this is what PTA is, and finally, maybe a place that we can be a part of — not a high school girls club.” 

Listening to LGBTQ+ Youth in Lynbrook, New York 

So often students are talked at, by parents, teachers, and coaches, and we forget how important it is for us to take time to listen. Ivy Reilly serves on the Lynbrook High School PTA and received a Diversity, Equity & Inclusion (DEI) grant from National PTA’s Center for Family Engagement in 2022. She also worked to ensure LGBTQ+ youth thrive by offering them an opportunity to share challenges, barriers and concerns of being identified as part of the community. Ivy decided to focus on the LGBTQ+ community after noticing that many students transitioned during the COVID-19 quarantine. She wanted to make sure that LGBTQ+ students and transgender students in particular, were being supported by the PTA. 

Ivy coordinated with the school administration and the Gay Straight Alliance (GSA) advisor to speak with GSA members. She approached the first conversation with a learning mindset. She knew she didn’t have all the answers and that she might not phrase everything correctly, but she didn’t let the desire for perfection stop her. Instead, she saw engaging students as a learning opportunity. “My job is to learn from you so I can help you,” she told them.  

Most of the conversations revolved around ordinary teen issues from extracurricular activities to homework, highlighting the commonalities LGBTQ+ students share with the wider student population. But occasionally more serious issues arose, including a child worrying about if their parent was embarrassed of them because of the way they look, and another student worried about their family sending them to conversion therapy. 

These conversations have motivated Ivy to work on getting LGBTQ+ resources added to the district’s website. She informed the principal about some of the needs that arose from these conversations. She’s also hoping to bring Challenge Day to the Lynbrook community to help build bridges of understanding at the high school. She shared that she remains dedicated to using the PTA platform to support LGBTQ+ youth. “Our goal is to take care of the kids,” she said. “Maybe we’ll get to the parents later, when they’re ready, but the kids need our support now.” 

What can you do? 

If these PTA leaders have inspired you to start advocating for LGBTQ+ youth, there are lots of things you can do to get started! Explore this map to find LGBTQ+ community centers near you, and consider partnering with them on programs, services or events. You can also connect with your school’s GSA. If your school doesn’t have one yet, help create one!  

For more ideas and inspiration, visit www.pta.org/LGBTQ for more resources, including an LGBTQ+ glossary and our podcast episode featuring leaders from the Human Rights Campaign.  

Welcome to Thrive

Thrive. The PTA Learning Community

Greetings PTA Members,

Welcome to Thrive: The PTA Volunteer Learning Community!

Thrive! is PTA’s new online learning community for volunteers. Thrive brings PTA leadership development to you. Through Thrive’s engaging, short courses, you can take training at your own time and place—even from football practice, a dance studio or a soccer field.

I’m so excited about the potential that Thrive brings to National PTA. Leadership development has been a priority for PTA for many years. But our reach has been limited. Throughout this pandemic, we have learned that online is working for our members. Our impact has been expanding, with more people coming to meetings and trainings. So just think of how many future leaders we will be able to reach through this new online community of learners!

What is Thrive?

Thrive is Engaging: Thrive engages every volunteer in their own time and place. Because you can stop a course and start back in your own time, Thrive makes leadership development fit into your life when and how you need it to. Your leadership development thrives in your life!

Thrive is Empowering: Thrive empowers all volunteers to advocate for all children. Volunteers gain new knowledge and skills that help their local and state PTAs operate at peak level. Thrive’s accessible content means every volunteer has access to the most up-to-date, high-quality information about best practices and techniques for helping all children achieve their potential.

Thrive is for you: No matter where you are in your leadership journey, as a lifelong learner there is something in Thrive for you!

Remember, it’s the quality and power of individual actions that can make the difference. The more we learn, the louder our collective voices will become to create change for all children and young people.

Ready to get started? Our help page contains instructions for signing up and taking courses.

Anna King, National PTA President

6 Tips for Keeping Children Safe From COVID This Summer

By We Can Do This, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services COVID-19 Public Education Campaign

We’re headed into summer, but we’re not out of the woods with COVID. Cases are going up all over the country, and COVID can make children very sick.

Since the pandemic began, over 100,000 children have been hospitalized with COVID and over 1,500 have died. Over 8,200 children with COVID have also had multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, or MIS-C, a rare but serious illness that involves painful swelling in different parts of the body, including the heart, lungs, and brain. And as many as 1 in 4 children who get COVID are experiencing long COVID, where they have new or lingering symptoms that last for weeks or months after infection.

Here are six tips to follow to keep children safe from COVID this summer.

1. Get vaccinated against COVID as soon as possible

Vaccination is the best thing children can do to protect themselves from the dangers of COVID.

Since vaccines became available, people in all age groups, including children, who are up to date with their COVID vaccines have been less likely to test positive, be hospitalized, and die from COVID than unvaccinated people. Vaccinated people are also less likely to get MIS-C and long COVID.

Right now, everyone ages 5 and older can get vaccinated. Find COVID vaccines near you at vaccines.gov.

2. Stay up to date with COVID vaccines

To stay up to date with their COVID vaccines, children ages 5–17 need to get two initial vaccine doses at least 21 days apart, followed by a booster shot 5 months after their second dose. A booster shot is an extra dose that helps keep up your protection from the vaccines.

Children are considered fully vaccinated 2 weeks after their second dose and immediately after their booster.

3. Wear a mask

Children are just as likely as adults to get and spread COVID.  

To maximize protection from highly contagious variants and prevent possibly spreading COVID to others, both vaccinated and unvaccinated children ages 2 and older should properly wear a well-fitting mask inside public places when the risk COVID poses to their community is high.

For everyone’s safety, CDC recommends that everyone ages 2 and older wear a mask on public transportation and while in airports and stations.

4. Avoid close contact, crowds, and poorly ventilated spaces

Because of how COVID spreads, children should try to avoid close contact with people who are or might be sick, including within their household, by staying at least 6 feet away.

Children who aren’t up to date with their COVID vaccines should stay at least 6 feet away from other people when inside public places and avoid crowded places and indoor spaces that don’t have fresh air from the outdoors—especially if they’re at higher risk of getting very sick with COVID.

5. Wash hands often

Handwashing removes germs from one’s hands. It helps prevent getting infections and spreading infectious diseases to others.   

Children should wash their hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after being in a public place or after blowing their nose, coughing, or sneezing. If they don’t have soap and water, they can use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

6. Test to prevent spreading COVID to others

Getting tested is the only way to know for sure whether you’re infected with COVID and reduce your chances of spreading the virus to others.

If a child tests positive, that means they’re infected with COVID. They should isolate, and you should tell everyone they’ve recently had close contact with, to avoid spreading the virus to others.