By Dale Buss – August 28, 2020 /Chief Executive/ —

Whether American public schools all re-open in the next few months will affect the education of millions of students, the household routines of millions of parents and the vocational paths of thousands of teachers.

But as the traditional Labor Day marker for the start of the school year nears, no one’s got a bigger bet on the return to “normalcy” than Adam Blumenfeld: He’s staked the future of his company, Varsity Brands, on it.

The CEO of the Farmer’s Branch, Texas-based maker and marketer of school-related merchandise, such as class rings, caps-and-gowns and cheerleading uniforms, has been tweaking Varsity Brands’ operations to weave around school closures. As schools continue to struggle with the pandemic interlude, Blumenfeld also has led Varsity to meet new educational needs with everything from personal protective equipment to digital curricula.

But while he believes it may take as long as a year to “see a return to normal in the education space,” Blumenfeld is doubling down on the eventuality.

“We have to make a calculated assumption about whether kids and teachers are coming back and school will be back to normal one day,” he told Chief Executive. “My personal belief is that school exists for a lot more than learning, such as its value for socialization. So right now, it’s not that kids are just missing math class but also missing the chance to learn how to interrelate.

“It would be a travesty if kids were isolated forever and self-taught exclusively through home learning. That can play a big role, and we service remote-learning programs. But the value of community pride and spirit and communication skills that kids get in regular schools is hard to match through Zoom.”

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