We’re in the midst of the cold and flu season and the number of reported COVID infections are rising at an alarming rate. With health and safety guidelines more relaxed than ever, this could mean trouble for vulnerable school communities.
What proactive measures can schools take to slow the spread and continue the school year with minimal interruptions? Here are three ways school leaders and administrators can leverage data-backed information and clear communication to help ensure the health and safety of students and staff.
- Track data.
CDC.gov developed a tool that updates the number of reported COVID cases, hospitalizations and more on a weekly basis. The tracker is equipped with graphs to display trends, making it easy to interpret the data presented. Having access to this information will help leaders stay updated with the latest pandemic information, and can be a key lever to guide decision-making around health policies, procedures and protocol.
This week alone, there was a spike of more than 400,000 new reported cases of COVID. With this knowledge, school leaders can prepare to implement procedures to protect their school communities.
- Use data to inform decision-making.
Leveraging the data and statistics available, school leaders should consider crafting a revised and fluid response to concerns surrounding the pandemic. The data, sourced from the CDC or other trusted local officials, can be used to add a level of validity to the plan, supporting the implementation and its necessity for the wellbeing of the school community.
Using data as a baseline to make decisions with the best interest of students and staff in mind will help establish trust with the school community.
- Communication is key
Success cannot be achieved without teamwork and everyone will have to do their part to slow the spread of COVID and keep everyone safe and healthy. To do that, leaders should be focused on developing a strategic communication plan to share changes in health protocols with all relevant stakeholders. The plan should be clear and concise, anticipating questions that may arise as the changes are implemented. Leaders should have a regular cadence for updating stakeholders on the plan, and should communicate any changes as rapidly as possible.
For effective crisis communications, school leaders should consider leveraging all available communications channels, including emails, text messaging, newsletters and social media to ensure the updates are disseminated as widely as possible.
Developing a strategic communications plan around an ongoing pandemic can be overwhelming. SMJ can help. Visit our Services tab to learn more about how we can provide support in a way that best fits your needs.
At SMJ Communications, we provide services to school systems and districts to help improve and shine a light on the great work being done to educate the future leaders and professionals of tomorrow. For more information on what we do and how we can work together, connect with us!