Forging and maintaining relationships is tougher than ever. But it’s not impossible, and it’s definitely worth it, especially for schools that need ongoing support from local citizens. Education belongs to the entire community and we’re all stronger when schools are strong and well-resourced.

Wondering what you can do to help when schools aren’t allowing visitors or volunteers? Here are some ideas:

  • Parents often aid local schools by volunteering in the classroom or at events. But most schools aren’t allowing guests on-campus, and many feel there’s nothing for them to do. There are still ways to get involved, though. Get to know your child’s teacher and build a relationship. Be supportive of their efforts and be empathetic. Parents might even do things like help run the carpool lane, so that teachers can be inside greeting students.
  • If you own a business, have you considered how you might assist? Reach out to the school and ask what they need! Some business/school partnerships have resulted in free internet for the school, which is a great benefit. There are also practical ways you can help, including providing needed supplies, such as PPE. Here in Sierra Vista, local restaurants have donated both food and masks to our schools.
  • Some members of the community who don’t have kids in schools don’t understand that the health of local schools impacts them. Youth who don’t graduate from high school are more likely to be incarcerated and draw on social services. Education impacts all of us. Even if you don’t have kids, you can help. Buy a meal for a teacher, ask the schools what they need, or volunteer with a nonprofit group that helps kids. Locally, places like Peach’s Pantry are providing weekend food bags for school-aged children.
  • School leaders shouldn’t overlook family engagement during this challenging time. It’s monumental for helping students achieve. Parent / teacher communication can be stressful on both sides, but schools should review policies to ensure it’s not more challenging than it needs to be.

Stephanie Thomas is the founder of the Sierra Vista Parents’ Coalition, a group helping create and strengthen partnerships between schools, families and local community members.