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Principal Serving in the Fight Against COVID-19
Thursday, May 21, 2020
During school closures, staff and students may have noticed another important absence. Principal Michael Donlon, has not been on campus. As a member of the military, he was on active duty since March, assigned to the Dual Status Command Post at the New York State Joint Forces Headquarters in support of Operation COVID-19. Principal Donlon recently returned to work at WSWHE BOCES. While he was on active duty, we caught up with him to find out about the critical role he played in sustaining the fight against COVID-19.
Principal Donlon’s role was that of a Liaison and Planning Officer on a team of staff who work directly for the Dual Status Commander Brigadier General Michel Natali. While the majority of the mission was being supported with Army National Guard soldiers, there were many Air National Guard, New York Guard and New York Naval Militia Service Members who have been activated to provide support to the operation. These branches all bring different capabilities and expertise to the fight against COVID 19 and all do things a little different which makes the Liaison Officer a very important part of the Commanders team. As a Liaison Officer Principal Donlon’s responsibilities included four basic functions; monitor, coordinate, advise, and assist.
Principal Donlon said, “my daily routine had me monitoring current and planned operations within my assigned Joint Task Force to include pertinent staff issues and to anticipate potential problems or needs. It was my responsibility to communicate this information to my Commander via a daily update brief so that he can make necessary decisions to synchronize current operations and future plans between the New York Military Forces and multi service agencies throughout the State. In addition, I participate as a member of the J5 planning staff that carefully considers the individual mission capabilities and limitations of units as we develop course of actions to advise our Commander in his decision making process.
“Since the beginning of the mission careful planning and constant communication with interagency leadership around the state has occurred and has been carefully coordinated through the Dual Status Command Post at the Joint Forces Headquarters under the leadership of General Natali and the Joint Command Staff. This is the States central hub for command and control of all military missions to include the conversion of the Javitts Convention Center to a Medical Station, the warehousing and distribution of medical supplies throughout the state, the operation of drive thru testing sites and decedent recovery teams working to assist the New York City medical examiner's office.
“There are a lot of similarities to how we all prepared for the unknowns of this pandemic both in education and the New York Military Forces. As educational leadership was meeting and putting together contingency plans to continue the educational process, military leadership was doing the same with the focus on being able to assist the Governor and numerous agencies in handling the impending demand for resources throughout the state. In the earliest phases of the mission we planned for the worst case scenarios at the direction of state and federal government and this has assisted us with being able to keep up with the operational tempo of the mission and to assist in flattening the curve.
“The skills I use to be a part of the leadership team at BOCES certainly assist me in being a part of the Dual Status Command Post responding to the COVID 19 Mission. Communication and organization skills are the key to success in both settings. Being able to receive requests for information, prioritize and identify resources to assist with finding solutions is the expectation of a Liaison Officer, and again all skills that assist with being a successful educational leader.
“Understandably there are many educators that are now in uniform as a part of this mission and we are proud to be representatives of our school districts and BOCES assisting our communities as members of the New York State National Guard. While we all remain focused on the mission and our Commanders intent, we all are looking forward to returning to our buildings, classrooms and students.”
In celebration of Memorial Day, and remembering those who served our country, we would like to thank Principal Donlon and all of the servicemen and women for their contributions, now more than ever.