Virginia Williams, Possip reporter with a background in Elementary Education & Special Education from Raleigh, NC, gives school leaders ideas for tackling COVID this upcoming school year.
COVID has now been impacting our students, staff and families for three school years! Throughout that time, countless messages have been shared with school communities about how to prevent the spread of COVID, what to do after an exposure (what is considered “exposure”?), what to do if you have COVID, what to do if you’re sick and it’s not COVID…and the list goes on and on.
With the ever-changing COVID landscape, it is just as important as ever to communicate early, often and CLEARLY with families.
Below are some guidelines that will help you do just that.
While this list is not exhaustive, we hope it helps you feel prepared to lead and support families and staff through another successful year!
1. Decide where, when and how will COVID information be shared.
Make sure families know where/when/how information related to COVID will be shared with them. Do they need to join a text messaging system? Do they need to ensure that their email address is included on a mailing list? Is there a page on your school website they should check regularly? Who should they contact if they have questions? Should they notify the school of exposures or infections? If so, how?
2. Communicate early, often and clearly!
Don’t wait until you have a student or staff member infected with COVID to share your protocols with your community! Share as much information as you can upfront. Make sure families and staff know what to expect in a variety of scenarios so that if/when positive cases do occur, there are no surprises in terms of your school’s response. Additionally, share any changes & updates in a timely manner. Most importantly, when possible, share the rationale behind your decision-making. We know there are many varying opinions and feelings about Covid and how to respond. It may be helpful to cite the medical experts and/or district leaders who are supporting and guiding your school as you make decisions about lifting, maintaining or changing safety measures.
3. Designate a COVID point person or team.
Create a COVID response team or designate a point person to lead the communication efforts. This will ensure consistency in how protocols/updates are communicated and will make it easy for families to reach out with questions or concerns.
We know the thought of another pandemic school year is exhausting, but we also know that you can set your school up for success throughout trying times by having a clear plan in place and sharing that plan with your community. We hope these tips help you in doing that!
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