Executive Director’s Corner: The Back-to-School Challenge

by Clairmonte Cappelle, Executive Director

Clairmonte Cappelle

Our K-12 community’s adaptive leadership journey over the past 18 months to combat the challenges triggered by the global COVID-19 pandemic has resulted in innovative approaches towards centering student and staff safety.  Our appreciation and thanks go out to school district staff for their unwavering commitment and tireless efforts to maintain a safe and healthy working and learning environment.  

As we enter another school year, we are reminded of how this scourge led to unprecedented levels of disruption to education and dire health, economic, and social consequences.  We witnessed interruptions to support systems, disproportionately impacting communities of color.  Users of these systems were left more vulnerable to illnesses and risks.  And, with the emergence this summer of the hyper-transmissible Delta variant, risks have intensified, particularly among kids and adolescents.  While throughout much of the pandemic, children have been at low risk of death or severe side effects from COVID-19, more recently, there has been a reversal of this trend, with increasing transmission and mortality rates among kids and adolescents. 

Our challenge as a community is to persist and remain steadfast in centering student and staff safety within a learning and working environment through consistent and universal adoption of COVID safety protocols.  The safety expectations parents and guardians have for their children when they are dropped off for academic, social, and emotional development are the same safety expectations school district staff have when they arrive to fulfill their job roles.  Safety and learning occur in tandem when following the layered approach for COVID protection to keep both students and staff safe.

Here at the Trust, assisting school district members to cultivate a best-practice workplace safety culture to facilitate in-person learning is paramount.  With respect to COVID, that means acknowledging that safety supersedes any perceived inconveniences.  Short of the Governor’s COVID-19 vaccination mandate (Proclamation 21-14.1)requiring school district staff to be fully vaccinated by October 18, 2021, the most effective approach to a safe working and learning environment in a COVID world is consistent adherence to best-practices

To support our collective responsibilities around student and staff health and safety, our Loss Control and Industrial Hygiene team offers a wide variety of risk prevention strategies designed specifically for our members. Take a few minutes to learn more about our Accident Prevention Program, Ergonomics: Services & Evaluations, Industrial Hygiene Services, and other programs. 

Thank you for your continued partnership as we strive to keep staff, students, and our communities safe and healthy. 

Have a safe, healthy, and successful school year!

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