National Communications Plan for Returning to School

 

A Guide for Your School Communications Efforts

As school districts across the United States prepare to reopen their buildings for the 2020-21 school year, they must actively communicate with their key stakeholders, including parents and guardians, teachers and staff, students, the local news media, community partners and community members.

This communication plan offers a roadmap to help drive your communication efforts over the next few weeks and months. It includes recommended communication tactics to reach your stakeholders with critical information and updates, along with a series of templates available for your use.

This plan is intended to serve as a guide. The specific strategy and tactics you use will depend on your district’s reopening plan, guidance you have received from state and local entities and the status of COVID-19 in your state or region.

Updated August 6, 2020

 

COMMUNICATION ROADMAP

 

JULY 2020

Below are recommended tactics for communicating with stakeholders about the district’s reopening plans in July 2020. Click on each icon to access templates and further guidance.

 

Web Copy & FAQs

Establish a web page on the district website to serve as a hub of information for reopening schools. It will include a series of answers to FAQs that will grow with time. This page will be continually updated.

Surveys

Create a survey for district families and staff members to share their concerns and provide their feedback on the district’s reopening plans. Allow at least two weeks for respondents to complete the survey.

Email Updates

Write and send emails to all district families and all district staff to provide an update on what you currently know regarding reopening and progress on the district’s planning process.

Social Media

Create and post weekly social media updates providing information to the community about the district’s plans to reopen schools in the fall.

Video Update

Record a brief video update on how the district is preparing to welcome students back into school buildings and providing any relevant updates to families and community members. Post the video to social media and the district’s reopening webpage.

Fact Sheets

Create a series of simple one-page fact sheets on key issues and procedures the district will implement when reopening schools in the fall. Each fact sheet will be shared via email and social media, as well as available for download on the district’s reopening web page. 

News Release

Create a news release on the district’s reopening plans and how teaching and learning will look when school begins. Distribute the news release to the local media and post it on the district’s reopening web page.

 

AUGUST 2020

Below are recommended tactics for communicating with stakeholders about the district’s reopening plans in the weeks and days leading up the first day of school.

3 WEEKS BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Web Copy & FAQs

Update the reopening web content and FAQs based on any changes to the district’s reopening plan and any questions the district has received from families, staff, and community members. 

The page should now feature clear information on busing and transportation, PPE policies, cleaning protocols, meal services, and how schools will handle students who experience an illness during the school day.

Email to Families

Write and send an email to all district families to provide an update on the district’s reopening plans and any other relevant information that has not yet been widely shared. Include an update on fall sports, many of which may begin prior to the first day of school.

Email to Staff

Write and send an email to all district staff to provide an update on the district’s reopening plans. Include options staff members will have if they are not comfortable returning to in-person instruction due to safety or health concerns.

All-Staff Q&A Session

Hold an all-staff virtual meeting via Zoom or another teleconferencing platform. Provide a brief introduction to the district’s reopening plans and allow staff members to ask questions and provide feedback.

Guest Article

Write a guest article on the district’s reopening plans and how teaching and learning will look when school begins. Include information on safety precautions, cleaning protocols, schedule structures, and meal service procedures. Distribute the article to the local media and post on the district’s reopening web page.

Signage

Create signage that briefly outlines rules and procedures to protect safety within school buildings. Post the signage at all school doors, in hallways, and in classrooms. Please contact us if you would like a version of this fact sheet with your district’s logo.

Video Update

Record a brief video to update the community on the district’s reopening plans. Post the video to social media and the district’s reopening webpage.

Social Media

Create and post weekly social media updates providing information to the community about the district’s plans to reopen schools.

2 WEEKS BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Web Copy & FAQs

Update the reopening web content and FAQs based on any changes to the district’s reopening plan and any questions the district has received from families, staff, and community members. 

All-Staff Q&A Session

Hold an all-staff virtual meeting via Zoom or another teleconferencing platform. Provide a brief introduction to the district’s reopening plans and allow staff members to ask questions and provide feedback.

Email Update to Families

Write and send an email to individual families with all the information they need to know regarding when students should attend school, especially if the district is using an A/B or staggered schedule. Include instructions on how students should engage in virtual learning, if applicable.

Fact Sheets

Update and publish the reopening fact sheets based on new information, as needed.

Video Update

Record a brief video to update the community on the district’s reopening plans. Post the video to social media and the district’s reopening webpage.

Social Media

Create and post two social media updates providing information to the community about the district’s plans to reopen schools.

1 WEEK BEFORE THE FIRST DAY OF SCHOOL

Web Copy & FAQs

Update the reopening web content and FAQs based on any changes to the district’s reopening plan and any questions the district has received from families, staff, and community members. 

Email Update to Families

Write and send an email to all district families to provide an update on the district’s reopening plans. Include information on the instructional model that will be used and an update on athletics and extracurricular programs.

Automated Voice Message

Record a brief (60 second) automated voice message to provide an update on the district’s reopening plans.

Email Update to Staff

Write and send an email to all district staff to provide a final update on everything staff need to know prior to the first day of school. Thank staff for their commitment and willingness to serve in such a challenging environment.

Video Update

Record a brief video to update the community as the district prepares to welcome students back to school in the coming days. Post the video to social media and the district’s reopening webpage.

Social Media

Create and post two social media updates providing information to the community about the district’s plans to reopen schools.

 

SCHOOL IN SESSION

Below are recommended tactics for communicating with stakeholders about reopening once schools are in session. Templates coming soon.

 

Email Updates

Write and send a brief email to all district families and all staff on the afternoon of the first day of school. Provide an update on how the day went and any changes that may need to take place moving forward.

Video Update

About one week into the school year, record a brief video to update the community. Focus on how the reopening plan is being implemented and any changes that may need to be made. Continue to record weekly video updates moving forward. Post the videos to social media and the district’s reopening webpage.

Social Media

Create and publish a social media post on the morning and afternoon of the first day of school. Welcome students and staff back to school, provide an update on how the day went, and share any changes that may need to take place moving forward. Continue to publish weekly social media updates at least once per week moving forward.

Email Updates

Once per week, send an email to all district families providing updates on key elements of the district’s reopening plan and any changes that may need to be made. These messages can focus on specific topics, such as mental health services, state testing protocols, cleaning procedures, and what children should do if they start to feel ill while at school. 

Web Copy & FAQs

Update the reopening web content and FAQs based on any changes to the district’s reopening plan and any questions the district has received from families, staff, and community members.

 

Contact Us

Please use the roadmap and templates above as you see fit. If you would like further guidance on implementing a communication plan in your school district, please contact us. For immediate assistance, call 800-317-7147.

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