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Coronavirus Communication: What Should School Leaders Do Right Now?

The spread of COVID-19, also known as coronavirus, is at the forefront of many people’s minds across the United States. While the news is concerning for all of us, parents and guardians are especially worried about how their children will be affected if the virus hits their local schools.

School and district leaders should be preparing for all possibilities, including the need to call off school for an extended period of time at some point over the next several weeks or months. Now is also a good time to communicate with your stakeholders about how the school district is preparing and how everyone can play a role in preventing the spread of the coronavirus and other illnesses.

At this time, we recommend communicating some key messages and talking points with your parents/guardians, staff and students related to coronavirus:

1. The school district is closely monitoring the situation and is making the necessary preparations in case the COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community. For now, there have been no indications of an coronavirus outbreak, but that could change as time goes on.

2. We all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in our school district community. We encourage everyone to practice good habits, including:

    • Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Wash for 20 seconds, using soap and hot water. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
    • Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
    • As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
    • If children are feeling sick, please keep them home from school. Allow them some time to feel better so that they do not risk infecting others.

3. We will continue to communicate with you in the days and weeks to come. It is possible that we may need to cancel classes if it appears the coronavirus has affected our community in a significant way.

4. As always, the safety of our students, staff and families remains our top priority. We will act out an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.

We have found that the most effective way to communicate this information is through emails or letters home to parents, staff emails, text alerts and PA announcements at school. You may also use the messages above to provide statements to the local media. We’ve seen that many reporters are looking to “localize” this story, seeking comment from school district leaders about how they are preparing for COVID-19.

Learn more by visiting our Coronavirus Communications page. If you would like further guidance on how you can best communicate about coronavirus in your school or district, contact the Donovan Group.

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