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Dear CSBA Member,

This has been one of the most trying weeks in recent memory for governing boards across the state. As the world struggles to contain the outbreak of the Coronavirus (COVID-19), I’m humbled by the thoughtful leadership of governance teams around the state. As education leaders, you are having to make some of the most difficult decisions that a school leader can be asked to make. At the same time, you are fielding questions about a situation that continues to evolve as health experts try to guide the nation through this crisis. 

We understand that you are facing judgement calls at a time when answers may be unclear or rapidly changing. Prior to the first confirmed cases in California, CSBA was having discussions about COVID-19 and taking action to best manage the potential impact on our operations and members. Several weeks ago, we felt it was important to address this crisis and do our part to help protect CSBA members and staff. We took steps to mitigate the spread of the virus by cancelling our Legislative Action Day in Sacramento – one of our key lobbying activities of the year.

At the time, some wondered whether the decision was premature. However, we knew we had to get ahead of this crisis and protect our employees and members – many of whom could be considered high-risk.  In the intervening weeks, almost every statewide organization has canceled its annual advocacy day or conference. Today, because of the recent guidance provided by the state and the uncertainty around how this crisis will evolve, we have also decided to cancel our July Leadership Institute in Los Angeles. This event will be rescheduled for 2021.

And while we cancelled our Legislative Action Day for members several weeks ago, our governmental advocacy team continued to engage state policymakers and our education partners about the potential impact COVID-19 could have on schools, including:
  • Ensuring that school districts and county offices of education are not punished financially or otherwise for putting the health of students, staff and community first
  • Examining whether low-income families or those with insufficient health care are avoiding medical treatment for cost reasons
  • Confirming whether the public charge rule is relevant if a child with undocumented immigration status makes a hospital visit
  • Determining whether families without documentation are avoiding school for fear of contracting an illness that leads to exposure of immigration status and deportation
  • Addressing deficits and inequities in statewide school technology infrastructure, instruction and professional development so distance learning becomes a realistic option for more LEAs in future emergencies
  • Providing for extended day or summer school options for students who miss school time that is critical to their efforts to graduate
  • Developing statewide protocols around event cancellation and school closures so LEAs are not making these decisions in isolation
Some of these concerns were addressed in an executive order Gov. Newsom issued late on the afternoon of March 13, 2020 that ensures continued state funding when schools are closed to help mitigate the spread of coronavirus. Operating with an abundance of caution, concern for our members, and an eye for new developments, our work continues and so do the difficult decisions. 

While we, like you, continue to try and manage this crisis, we will keep you updated on state-level decisions and provide you with various resources related to COVID-19. Over the past week, we have provided members with a number of communications to help navigate the decisions presented by the spread of coronavirus, including:
We have also created a special webpage devoted to COVID-19 at www.csba.org/coronavirus with resources and information from the World Health Organization, Centers for Disease Control, California Department of Education, California Office of Safety and Health and the California Department of Public Health. For your convenience, I am including links to some of these resources here:  We will continue to use current research and our relationships with California’s top decisionmakers to provide you with the most relevant information on COVID-19. As you strive to meet the demands of your students, staff, and local communities, we will be advocating for the financial, operational, and legislative support you need to succeed in this work. You can expect further updates as information becomes available. In the meantime, I wish you the best in your efforts to serve California students in a period of great uncertainty.

Sincerely,


Vernon M. Billy
CEO & Executive Director