Communicating with Staff During a Coronavirus School Closure
As a school district leader, you may be feeling under siege by all the questions you are receiving from parents, staff, members of the media and community members during coronavirus-related school closures. Through clear, proactive communication, you can answer many of these questions from the start, allowing you to maximize your time on other critical tasks during this uncertain time for your district community.
Below are some key items you should be communicating to teachers and staff while school buildings are closed due to COVID-19:
1) Make clear how the district will handle pay for teachers and staff while schools remain closed.
Many school boards are passing resolutions in special meetings to handle this issue. Staff members may be worried that they won’t be paid if they are not in the school buildings. It’s important to provide clarity on this as soon as you can.
2) Give clear direction on expectations for teachers and staff while schools are closed.
Are teachers expected to prepare e-learning opportunities for students on a daily or weekly basis? Provide clear guidance on what teachers and staff are expected to accomplish while working from home.
3) Encourage teachers and staff to reach out to students and parents via email regularly.
It sounds simple, but many children and teens will appreciate hearing from their teachers during this uncertain time. Even if it’s just to ask how students are doing, teachers can provide a small sense of normalcy during a time that’s anything but normal.
4) Encourage teachers to be available to parents.
Parents may turn to teachers and staff for guidance and reassurance. Consider asking your staff to send an email to parents, letting them know that they can reach out at any time if they need help or want tips on how students can continue to learn while school buildings are closed.
5) Encourage teachers to interact with students.
Teachers can do a lot of good by sharing resources, providing daily lesson plans for families and conducting regular Google Hangouts. While these activities may not be required for students, children and families will find them helpful in filling the downtime they are now experiencing. It also offers some reassurance that things will eventually go back to normal.
6) Encourage staff to engage in professional learning and collaborate with their peers.
Now is a great time for teachers to grow as professionals and learn new best practices. Provide them with resources they can use to engage in professional learning and encourage them to interact and collaborate with their fellow educators online.
7) Offer clear direction to food services, custodial and maintenance staff.
Will food services staff continue to provide meals to students—perhaps via a drive-thru, pickup process? Make sure they know their roles and what’s expected of them. The same should be done for custodians and maintenance staff, who may need to continue coming to the school buildings.
8) Should school and district administrators work from home or go to the office?
It is likely you will want your administrators to work from home as much as possible. Be clear about how you will handle these decisions and encourage them to limit their travel to the office to only essential activities.
These are some of the most critical pieces of information you should be communicating with staff, but they likely do not represent everything. Depending on your school district’s situation, you may have a variety of other items to communicate. Regardless of what those items are, make a list and work to be as proactive as possible.
Learn more and find free templates for communicating by visiting our Coronavirus Communication Resource page. If you would like further guidance on how you can best communicate about coronavirus in your school or district, contact the Donovan Group.