One of the most important aspects to handling a crisis situation is regularly communicating information with your public:
- What are you doing to address the situation?
- How will it impact their children?
- What steps do they need to take moving forward?
- Will their children be safe?
This is no different with our current COVID-19 situation, especially as schools begin planning to return in the fall. Parents want to know what they can expect. For example:
- Will classes be in person, virtual or a blend of both?
- What safety precautions will you be taking to minimize the spread of the virus?
- What happens if we see another surge of infections?
- How will your decisions impact their own work schedules? They may need to make alternative plans.
While no school's plans will make all parents happy, it's important to communicate with your families that you are taking their concerns into consideration and are doing your utmost to put together a schedule that is as least disruptive as possible. You will also want to remember that people want to feel like their voice and concerns are being heard. If you provide no avenue or opportunity for that, they'll only become more frustrated and angry and will vent that in a variety of ways, including on social media.
So what are some ways to mitigate that anger and frustration and keep your community informed and involved?
- Distribute a survey asking for their opinion.
We have created a generic questionnaire you can pull from to create your own. NOTE: If you choose to use this exact survey, please make sure you make a copy BEFORE editing it for your school. If you edit this copy directly and another school does the same, one of you will be writing over the other's changes. Contact me if you need help.
- Keep track of all communications you receive from your community and the media. Keep all that information in one document, and share it with all staff members who handle communications for your school/district (calls, website contacts, social media posts, etc.). Doing so can help you see trends in what people are asking, and you can use this information to create an FAQ page on your website or any other helpful documents you can share with your families. We have created a generic communications log using Google Sheets, which is especially helpful because multiple users can add to it at the same time, and you don't risk having several versions floating around. NOTE: If you choose to use this exact log, please make sure you make a copy BEFORE editing it for your school. If you edit this copy directly and another school does the same, one of you will be writing over the other's changes. Contact me if you need help.
- Engage directly with your public. Consider hosting a Facebook Live video or creating a Zoom conference call and inviting your community to participate so they can type questions directly and receive instant answers. We can help you set those up if you need. Just let us know.
- Check out other resources we continue to put together and post on our website.
We know this is a terribly difficult time, and you are having to make decisions that are anything but easy, but we continue to stand with you and will help you with anything we can. Please reach out to any one of our staff members for support.