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ASCM Insights

Education and Well-Being Must Be Basic Rights

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“Kids are hurting right now. I don’t need a politician to tell me that,” writes Superintendent Jeff Gregorich in a poignant and entirely authentic Washington Post article about his ongoing deliberations over whether his district should reopen or not. “School is the best place for them. We all agree on that. But … there’s no way it can be safe. If you think anything else, I’m sorry, but it’s a fantasy.”

Gregorich’s words echo my own feelings, as I struggle with the decision to send my son back to the University of Iowa. As I’m sure all parents of school-aged children understand, that choice was one of the most difficult my family has ever had to make. And it’s not just parents and students; teachers are scared, too. We’re going to lose way too many qualified educators because they’re choosing retirement or a career change over being forced back into the classroom too early. In fact, a USA Today/Ipsos poll found that one in five teachers are unlikely to go back if schools open in the fall.

As nations around the world grapple with how to educate students during a pandemic, another recent study finds that any plan to reopen schools “must be accompanied by large-scale, population-wide testing of symptomatic individuals and effective tracing of their contacts.” Furthermore, 75% of individuals with symptomatic infection would need to be tested and positive cases isolated; plus, 68% of their contacts would have to be traced so that they can also be tested and quarantined, if necessary.

Yale Public Health Professor A. David Paltiel tells CNN that numerous schools will be unable to reach this high bar: “If you can’t see your way toward at least minimal meeting of these screening standards or maintaining control over prevention, then a school really needs to ask itself if it has any business reopening.”

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When you consider the vastness of COVID-19, it’s difficult to envision any school operating without ongoing closings and openings, as well as students and teachers in and out of quarantine. This, of course, raises critical questions about the quality of education that can possibly be provided under such extreme circumstances.

In an effort to address those questions, some schools have decided to fully reopen, but many more are going virtual or adopting an in-person/virtual hybrid. (And, like Superintendent Jeff Gregorich, others continue to contemplate the best choice between three very discouraging alternatives.) But one thing is clear: Administrators and teachers will be looking to technology to help them prepare for all of the possible scenarios — and the future of education.

As anyone in our industry knows, supply chain continues to face a talent shortage. Here at ASCM, we talk constantly about the importance of sharing what we do with kids, inspiring college students to pursue supply chain majors and supporting our young professionals as they begin their supply chain journeys. This is a pivotal moment: We must defend and safeguard those who represent the future of supply chain and the people who educate them.

Technology can help make this happen. For our part, ASCM has transitioned our annual Case Competition to an entirely virtual format for 2020-21. Organized in collaboration with Deloitte, the ASCM Case Competition inspires future industry leaders by giving student teams the opportunity to enhance and test their knowledge with real-life supply chain challenges.

In addition, our online Mentoring Program is a wonderful way to reach today’s students as they navigate an extraordinarily challenging landscape. You can make a real difference by giving your time and talents to a future supply chain professional.

Anything we can do right now to help young people is an essential investment in our most valuable resource. Please get involved today.

About the Author

Abe Eshkenazi, CSCP, CPA, CAE CEO, ASCM

Abe Eshkenazi is chief executive officer of the Association for Supply Chain Management (ASCM), the largest organization for supply chain and the global pacesetter of organizational transformation, talent development and supply chain innovation. During his tenure, ASCM has significantly expanded its services to corporations, individuals and communities. Its revenue has more than doubled, and the association successfully completed three mergers in response to both heightened industry awareness and the vast and ongoing global impact driven by supply chains. Previously, Eshkenazi was the managing director of the Operations Consulting Group of American Express Tax and Business Services. He may be contacted at abe@ascm.org.

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