Message from the Chair – Following the Science – Reopening and Operating in the COVID-19 Environment
As I noted in my last Message from the Chair, COVID-19 has had an immediate and significant impact for K-12 education in California and across the nation. The school facilities and maintenance communities have been focused on preparing staff and buildings for reopening and operating in the COVID-19 environment and beyond. CASH has focused on advocacy for funding and programs to help address the unknown cost impacts of COVID-19, as well as providing timely information and education programs to assist our members navigate uncertain environments that have been created in the wake of COVID-19.
We Hear You
We recognize that the uncertainty that COVID-19 presents is the primary challenge for the school facilities and maintenance communities. On behalf of the CASH Board of Directors, I would like to say that we feel your pain as practitioners dedicated to providing clean, safe and healthy learning environments for all students, administrative staff, and teachers. Your real-time comments during our complimentary webinars about what you are facing as you prepare to reopen is valuable information for us and our advocates. Maintenance directors reached out to us to say that they need a guidebook to help navigate the COVID-19 environment resulted in CASH developing that resource. This information helps guide our CASH advocacy team as they pursue funding and programs to help our members address the fiscal impact of new activities and requirements. An example is CASH’s strong support for AB 841 (Ting) and AB 1001 (Ting), which would provide grant programs to help school districts upgrade HVAC systems, lead plumbing infrastructure, and energy resiliency. We are in this together.
CASH believes that an empirical approach is the only substantive way out of our current situation, and we have followed the best current science. With regard to reopening and operating schools, the best current science has told us to protect students and staff with personal protective equipment, to clean and thoroughly disinfect, to maintain and invest in HVAC systems to ensure healthy indoor air quality, and implement physical distancing and scheduling. The CASH Maintenance Network (CMN) put out a guidebook that focuses on these issues, and has presented webinars that focus on school maintenance issues to compliment CASH’s focus on the broader school facility issues. CASH has presented weekly no cost webinars and web-shops on these and associated issues such as how to fund these new requirements to help our members successfully navigate the current uncertainty.
This Too Shall Pass
At some point, there will be an empirical solution to COVID-19. Life in general, and for the school facilities communities, will be closer to what we have known, though likely changed as a result of living through COVID-19. As we focus on the challenges that COVID-19 presents for the school facilities and maintenance communities in the near term, CASH also has an eye toward this future. We will continue these no cost webinars focused on reopening in the COVID-19 environment, but supplement them with minimum cost web-shops that focus on broader school facility and maintenance issues necessary for long-term success. We have also scheduled the CASH Fall Virtual Forum, October 13-14, an online alternative to the CASH Fall Conference, which will focus on California’s Economic Outlook by Mark Schniepp, State budget issues, FEMA funds and what is allowable for COVID-19 related expenses, latest legislative issues, lessons learned from reopening schools in a COVID-19 environment, and a Federal outlook to include an update by DC lobbyist, Bob Canavan.
~Julie Arthur, CASH Chair