July’s Virtual Superintendent Symposium & Retreat Builds a Safe, Equitable Back-to-School Blueprint

Virtual Superintendent Symposium and Retreat

All district leaders are invited to a no-cost virtual retreat held by the Institute for Education Innovation to outline how to open schools safely and equitably in the fall

(Asheville, NC) July 7, 2020—All district leaders are invited to Institute for Education Innovation’s Superintendent Symposium and Retreat from July 24 to July 25 to workshop ideas for reopening schools in the safest and smartest way possible. With a focus on equity and social justice, the retreat will offer an innovative space both virtually and in person for Institute for Education Innovation (IEI) members as well as non-member superintendents and district administrators from across the country to come together and develop a blueprint for 2020’s version of back to school.

By the end of the symposium, IEI will have outlined a vision of concrete strategies for how districts can open safely and equitably. Workgroup discussions will be organized around district needs, taking into account the need for urban, suburban, and rural districts to connect with colleagues from similar contexts.

Themes and challenges will include:

  • The use of physical space;
  • Mental health and health protocols;
  • Cybersecurity and digital access;
  • Curriculum, instruction, and planning, and
  • Lessons learned from spring 2020 data.

Virtual attendees and in-person attendees will have equal opportunities to participate in the discussions via IEI’s virtual conference platform. In-person attendance at the Biltmore Estate in Asheville, NC, is by invitation only to ensure the safety of attendees and adherence to CDC guidance during the pandemic, but all are welcome to register and participate virtually.

“The irony of the pandemic is that district leaders have never so badly needed to get in a room together to problem solve and workshop creative ideas,” said Doug Roberts, founder and CEO of Institute of Education Innovation. “When members asked us to figure out a way to gather the group safely, we got to work figuring out how to make it happen. The IEI community, along with our colleagues in districts across the nation, have the rare opportunity to reopen schools with a focus on undoing some of the structural barriers to equity.”

Dr. Danny Merck, the superintendent of Pickens County (SC) Schools, who will be speaking at the symposium, said that this gathering of leaders to share strategies for coping with extraordinary circumstances is “about an attitude of continuous learning, the ability to learn from other leaders, and being vulnerable yourself. Our three priorities are the well-being and safety of our students, providing excellent teaching and learning, and supporting the economy. How we keep those priorities in order and be mindful that all three are important, without sacrificing the others is just one of the many difficult questions we will seek answers to at the upcoming symposium”

The retreat will have no more than 50 in-person attendees and an unlimited number of virtual attendees. This balanced environment will create a strong community, focused interaction, and positive change. The IEI Superintendent Symposium and Retreat will begin Friday, July 24 at 12 p.m. EDT and ends Saturday, July 25 at 3 p.m. EDT. Free registration will be open until Friday, July 24.

All district leaders are invited to join the Symposium’s virtual component. A la carte partial attendance by topic and session will be available. Interested educators may self-register here.

Institute for Education Innovation (IEI) builds relationships and hosts conferences and workshops that bring together educational innovators to explore new solutions to old challenges in schools across North America. By bridging gaps between the individuals and organizations committed to seeing students succeed in school, IEI creates a safe space for constructive problem-solving and innovative thinking. Learn more at

The American Consortium for Equity in Education, publisher of the "Equity & Access" journal, celebrates and connects the educators, associations, community partners and industry leaders who are working to solve problems and create a more equitable environment for historically underserved pre K-12 students throughout the United States.

Current issue of Equity & Access:

Equity & Access - Issue 27

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