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How to Run your PTO During a School Shut Down

As schools and activities are being cancelled for weeks at a time, you’re probably a little anxious and worried about what this means for you and your PTA/PTO.

The reality is that rest of this school year is pretty uncertain.

In fact, I originally wanted to call this post How to run your PTO in a Time of Uncertainty, but that seemed a little weird…

But we will come out on the other side and things will eventually get back to normal.

Once you have made all the cancellation calls and provided notice to vendors, students and families, then what?

Take a Break

The second half of the school year is the long haul to the finish line. 

Many leaders are ready for a break. 

So take one! 

And don’t feel guilty about it for one second!

Develop a Plan B for the Rest of This School Year

Once you feel like you’ve caught your breath, get a Plan B together to set your PTA/PTO up for success going forward.

The timing of this pandemic is coming right during the middle of elections season for PTA/PTOs. 

And that’s nerve wracking, given the uncertainty!

But you have more control in this situation than you might realize.

Don’t let the fact that you can’t meet in person make things grind to a halt. 


Your Executive Board should come up with a plan for meetings since meeting in person soon in is unlikely.

Consider using Google Hangouts or Zoom for executive board meetings.

Also, check out this post that has more alternatives to in person meetings.


Due to the restrictions on in person gatherings, plan to vote by survey. 

Google Forms has an option to limit one response per email and also collect emails. 

If your Bylaws state that only members in good standing can vote, then cross check responses against your membership roster.

Bottom line: Don’t over think this or get twisted up trying to follow the rules to a tee.

Chances are your Bylaws didn’t contemplate a pandemic of this magnitude, so be flexible.

A word of caution: the PTA/PTO President, or any other leader, shouldn’t make unilateral decisions. 

Involve the Executive Board in the decision making process.

Follow the Bylaws and Standing Rules as much as possible and practical.

Communicate and be transparent.

Wrap Up this Year

There’s a few things to do wrap up this year, namely officer elections and teacher appreciation.

Figure out a plan for those (make sure to read the blog posts for guidance!) and get those crossed off of your to do list.

Start Working on Next Year

Once you’ve figured out the rest of the current school year, start thinking ahead to next school year.

Current Executive Board Members and Committee Chairs

Current leaders have quite a bit of work to do now that not only wraps up this year, and for the next school year too.

Line Up the Next Set of Leaders

First, up is something that effects both this year and next year: future leaders.

Lining up leaders now now is crucial for next year’s success.

Ensure your Nominating Committee is recruiting next year’s leaders.

Once you have a slate of officers, send it out to members.

Ask if anyone else is interested in running for that position.

Give at least a week for responses since PTA/PTO is not top of mind for all but the hard core devotees.

Then send out the voting link along with the date for the close of voting.

If your PTA/PTO doesn’t want to vote electronically, plan to have a Summer meeting to conduct elections. 

Don’t wait until Fall to elect leaders if at all possible.

The earlier you can get next year’s leaders into place the better.

This provides planning time and the new leaders aren’t trying to plan and execute all at the same time.

printable pto event summary form

Program and event planning

Start the planning you’d normally do over the Summer now.

The current Executive Board should evaluate the events and programs held this year and discuss changes. 

Usually leaders are so busy pulling off one event after another, there’s little time for reflection and discussion.

But it’s this thought work that can be the difference maker!

Ask Program and Event Chairs to fill out Event Summary Forms so the event can be discussed.

Also, the board can start to map out the calendar of events for next year.

PTO calendar template to publicize PTO family events and fundraisers. Plan out your entire year to work towards your PTA's goals for a successful year! #ptoanswers #pto #pta #template

Individual leaders

Aside from the work as an Executive Board, there’s also things you can do to get ahead of the game, personally.

If you’ve already agreed to a position for next year, start planning!

You can get a lot of the work done now while other plans are cancelled.  Learn more about your new position. 

Draft event flyers and volunteer flyers. 

Work out the wording for announcements about the event. 

Even if you don’t have the specifics, you can use place holders for the date, place and time. 

Then when those details are firmed up, you’ll be all set to go!

Bottom line: Your future self is thanking you for using this time wisely!

Over to you!

Our normal schedules are getting interrupted, but we can make the most of the time by planning for the future.

What else would you add to this list?

Let’s chat in the comments.

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