In October 2019, when we announced the conference theme of Vision 2020: Leading by Action and Example, who could have predicted that we would be dealing with a global pandemic in 2020. Looking through those glasses, that was the last thing I would have envisioned. Even after cancelling the spring Leadership Conference as pandemic reality emerged, the need to cancel the annual Fall Conference still seemed unfathomable.
And yet, here we are.
Today, our schools and businesses are closed. Social distancing has become a way of life and the path to normalcy is uncertain and long. In addition, the economic impact on our society due to this pandemic has been devastating. It’s impacted the businesses of our friends and colleagues and placed incredible strain on resources.
In discussing the implications of having a conference this year, the WAMOA board came to the conclusion that there is no way to know if a large gathering such as ours will even be possible in October. More importantly, at a time when we need to prepare to bring students back into our buildings and find a new way of keeping students and staff safe and healthy, our board, our planning team, and all of us are stretched thin and it is very hard to envision being away from our districts during these crucial months to follow.
The decision to cancel the 2020 WAMOA conference was not an easy one, but it’s essential that we each be able to focus on the work at hand during these not-normal times This is where we can lead by our actions and by our example in our districts, put our knowledge and experience into action, and collaborate on the best path moving forward to reopening schools, and keeping them open. It will take the work of all of us, and our Educational Partners, to bring about this new iteration of education in our state.
Moving forward, we do not know yet when schools will reopen or in what form. We do know that we, as Maintenance & Operations professionals, will be key to that reopening. This is our wheelhouse. This is what we are called to do -- provide a safe, healthy environment for teaching and learning. Whether that is in September, October or later, we will support our districts in getting schools operating safely.
The 2020 conference will be missed. In its stead, the collaboration, networking, and teamwork can and will continue. And the 2021 conference will be special.
Conference - Yakima, Washington Conference Chair: Alicia Lawver, Tacoma Public Schools, Ph: 253-973-3772