Apprehensive teachers. Worried parents. Confused students.
As you and other school administrators make plans for the new school year, you’re dealing with a wide range of emotions, new challenges and a lot of questions. While you likely don’t have all the answers, it’s more important than ever to be transparent and maintain timely, effective communication with everyone involved in your school’s day-to-day activities.
In other words, you cannot over-communicate right now. You also can’t rely solely on traditional forms of communication because, when it comes to COVID-19, it’s important for you to control the message and slow the rumor mill.
In addition to regular email communications, we recommend the following:
- Keep your website updated with current information, including:
- School- and district-specific updates – with access to archived updates
- Steps your school has taken to keep students and staff safe as schools re-open
- Responses to FAQs (What do I do if my child seems sick? What happens if the there’s an outbreak?)
- Common preventative measures for families (e.g. wash hands, stay home when sick, etc.)
- For an added, personal touch, add informational videos to your website. With video, it will be clear that you’re just as concerned as your teachers, parents and students.
- Update Facebook and other social media platforms with the latest, accurate information – this is especially important if you have a suspected COVID case in one of your classrooms. An “official” statement (linking to more information on your website) is the best way to stop the spread of misinformation.
- Consider hosting a Facebook forum, Zoom session or webinar, so you can speak directly to parents and give them an opportunity to ask questions. If you are uncomfortable with a live Q & A, then a webinar is the way to go. You can mute participants and take questions via chat – answering the more sensitive ones off-line.
- Utilize one-on-one, personal outreach – especially if there’s potential exposure. A phone call to concerned parents is the best way to calm nerves and ensure they receive accurate, up-to-date information.
There are also a number of helpful online resources designed to help administrators, teachers and parents navigate the COVID-19 crisis — including this toolkit for administrators, teachers and parents developed by a team at Arizona State University. For more information, visit publichealth.arizona.edu.