School Board Leadership during the COVID-19 pandemic: Dr. Scott Mickelsen, Topeka USD 501Scott Rothschild
No one ran for school board thinking they would be helping govern their district through our nation’s worst health crisis in more than a century. Debates over wearing masks, playing football, or even whether and how to open schools have kept school board meetings going late into many nights and filled the email boxes of school board members. During this time, we think it is important for board members to share their experiences with each other and the public so that we all may learn how to face this challenge before us.
Dr. Scott Mickelsen, has served on the Topeka USD 501 board since 2013 and is currently board president.
When did you realize that the COVID-19 pandemic was going to be a huge issue affecting schools and what were your immediate thoughts and responses?
I don’t think you are able to print my immediate reaction when I learned about COVID-19! Like most districts, we realized early on that this was going to be problematic and would disrupt how teaching and learning has traditionally happened. There was initially a huge lack of knowledge as well as disinformation about the virus, so we tried to focus on obtaining fact-based information in order to formulate a measured response.