This back-to-school season is like no other. The natural excitement of a new school year is tempered by concerns for maintaining student and staff health, the ubiquity of masks and physical distance, and the awareness that countless students and staff members are bearing the weight of grief and trauma from the pandemic.

As early as June, the NASSP School Reentry Initiative team revealed four areas of concern that were top of mind for principals:

  • Implementing clear policies and protocols that would allow learning to continue at high levels without compromising the health of students and staff members
  • Prioritizing the value that all students must have their needs fulfilled
  • Ensuring the well-being of the adults in the building who see to the well-being of the students
  • Communicating with and uniting stakeholders who might have very different views of how to proceed without compromising their confidence in the school

As you read this list, I know you are reminded of so many conditions that remain dynamic and imperfect. Yet, there is one constant your school community can rely on: your leadership. And they need it now more than ever before.

As I have observed school leaders over the decades, your ability to adapt and lead through ambiguity persists as a hallmark of your greatness. Through terrorist attacks and natural disasters, you have shown not only your resilience but your ability to galvanize a community to thrive. While this pandemic is different from crises in the past, I am confident you will once again adapt and do great things on behalf of your students and teachers who are fortunate to have your support.

Finally, please don’t forget to take care of yourselves. Lean on the professional community you have built through NASSP and locally, share your frustrations and ideas, and continue to build the effective practices that will make us all stronger and better.

Best wishes for a great, albeit unusual, school year!

JoAnn Bartoletti
Executive Director, NASSP