As many of you know, New Jersey’s 21 county school boards associations have continued their meetings during the pandemic—virtually, through NJSBA’s WebEx videoconferencing service.

I have to admit that, when I first heard about the plan, I wasn’t sure how well it would work. Frankly, it sounded as if it had the potential to be a little chaotic.

I am happy to report I was wrong. I have been joining several of these meetings, and they are just as full of valuable information and insights as the in-person meetings have always been. While New Jersey’s board of education members are not meeting with each other in person, the connections between them are as strong as ever.

I want to give a big shout-out to NJSBA staff members, who have arranged speakers on timely topics, like virtual learning, state legislative initiatives, and social-emotional learning during the pandemic. In several meetings, the executive county superintendents have been on hand to answer questions, and NJSBA attorneys, governmental relations staffers and field service representatives provide updates and answer questions.

But I also want to thank our local board members. To a person, they have worked courteously and collaboratively to enhance the meetings.  Members share ideas and best practices with each other, while allowing for civil discourse.  Virtual meetings wouldn’t work very well without a group that cooperates, and NJSBA’s board members work well together. It’s this kind of teamwork that is getting us through these hard times.

Meanwhile, our board members have also been enthusiastic about all the other virtual programming that NJSBA has been offering since mid-March. After schools were closed and large gatherings were prohibited, the Association pivoted immediately to providing the same informative events—online.  And our members have responded.  The first month after the closure, nearly 1,000 people viewed our webinars—either live or through the archived version. Our Facebook Live videos have been viewed nearly 17,000 times, and more than 100,000 people are estimated to have seen content from our Facebook page.

I want to thank the Association staff members who have been involved in these efforts; they are much appreciated.  Our staff is also hard at work on NJSBA’s first virtual Workshop, to be held Oct. 20, 21, and 22. We will be sharing more details about that conference in the next issue of School Leader magazine.

As great as all of the virtual programs have been, I have to admit I am looking forward to the day when we can meet again, face-to-face. Sometimes, it has been the unplanned and unexpected side conversations I have had with fellow board members that have enlightened me and provided me with the most interesting ideas. So here’s looking toward Workshop 2021, when we hope to be back at the Atlantic City Convention Center

Until then, I’ll be seeing you—online.

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