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As the reality of the pandemic continues to take a toll on our daily lives, we are faced with many new challenges. Superintendents and school leaders have “decision fatigue” as they are constantly rethinking every process in their schools.

Things that were at one time routine are now controversial. How will we sell football tickets safely? Who gets to buy the limited number of them available? Will our board meeting be held in-person? What should our bus routes look like? How do we build a new master schedule every six weeks? Should we hire a company to disinfect the schools? How do we handle lunch schedules? What should pickup and drop-off look like? What’s the process for on-campus deliveries? How will we hold parent conferences? Who can install plexiglass in the office? Connectivity issues, anyone?

Some of the decisions that have to be considered involve cybersecurity, since so much of our work is now being done online. In our fall 2020 issue of INSIGHT, we discuss the new realities facing the very real problem of cybersecurity. And in our latest episode of the Inspiring Leaders Podcast, we hear from Jeff Burke and Buddy Denman about Splendora ISD’s experience with one of the biggest ransomware perpetrators to hit the United States, and we visit with Clear Creek ISD Chief Technology Officer Robert Bayard about how his district works to protect itself from this threat to large and small districts alike. With a new wave of cybercrimes being committed against schools, it’s more important than ever to be as vigilant as possible to protect sensitive student information, financial resources and student safety.

There have been concerns about hackers “Zoom bombing” remote classes or “kidnapping” important data and demanding a financial ransom for its safe return. One organization of cybercriminals is so well established, it even has a “help desk” staffed by a friendly person who will ensure safe payment of your ransom. This is indeed a big concern. With so much activity occurring online to conduct our “new normal” school routines, there is more opportunity for concerns about cybersecurity. Yet, we know even the most secure sites can become hacking victims. Think of the Pentagon, retail stores, major banks and even political parties. How can schools protect themselves and their students while still making sure teachers have access to the information and technology they need to effectively teach our children?

All of these uncertainties lead to even more decision fatigue. One way to alleviate this fatigue is to check off decisions one at a time. My hope is that through our INSIGHT journal and Inspiring Leaders Podcast, we have provided some insights for you and possibly greater clarity, so that you can check this one item off your very long list. Be well, my friends!

-TASA Executive Director Kevin Brown, Ed.D.