Brand Management

UPDATED Managing School Communications: COVID-19

Victoria Harkes
12 Minutes

Managing School Communications During COVID-19

Working From Home

With the COVID-19 pandemic it has been proven that in times of uncertainty, schools must remain strong and continue to work together to maintain learning environments. Managing communications during a crisis like COVID-19 is important across all platforms and devices. Informational sources about the virus are being updated on an hourly basis.

Managing Crisis Communications, The Basics

Don't Panic

When it comes to Crisis Communications remember: Your job is not about making things better, but about not making things worse.

Getting the information out to the people that need it as effectively and efficiently as possible. Communication will vary from platform to platform and between devices.

When creating messages, they must contain statements of facts and feelings. Statements such as: “Our first priority is the safety of our staff and students.” Not writing anything is a statement which people associate with guilt and will assume the worst.

In this case, you must take control of what you can, the narrative. The way you construct and present messages will depend on the platform you are using.

Different Platforms and Mediums

The differences in the networks and mediums lies in their respective audiences. Each platform provides you with the tool to share valuable information at different lengths. Below are some of the most valuable platforms that can be used for crisis communications.

During your messages on any social media network, you should also provide contact information for individuals who have further questions and concerns, such as a phone number and email address. You may also want to add links to websites for more information.

Facebook

Sharing messages on Facebook gives people the power to share, stay connected with friends and family. You can express what matters to them. With Facebook being one of the most used social networks, it can be leveraged to effectively share relevant news and local alerts. Through Facebook, you can post anything from text, images, maps, to downloadable content.  

Facebook should be used sparingly in a crisis and not used to share breaking news unless you have a full story to tell, which right now might be that schools are closed until X date and that more news will be available on X date. Facebook encourages conversation, so post here knowing that people will discuss in the comments and be prepared for that.

Twitter

Twitter acts as a micro-blogging network. You can post and share quick messages that are limited to 280 characters. Within tweets, you can add links and incorporate hashtags on trending news, such as COVID-19. The use of hashtags offers the opportunity for more people to see your content.

The benefit of using Twitter is that you can include a long list of tweets that are related to the same story. Consider creating your own hashtag for this story to keep it contained and grouped together (ex. District School Board could use #dsbcovidnews).  Twitter is a better social platform for sharing breaking news and more serious updates.

Email

Sending out an email as soon as possible is important. In an email, you can outline the crisis and recap the problem for anyone who might not know. This also gives you the chance to make sure everyone is up-to-date on the most current information.

You will want to include relevant subject lines so that people will know what information they can expect in the email. For example, a subject line might be: “DISTRICT SCHOOL BOARD: COVID19 – UPDATE."

Using Desktop and Mobile

The use of each form of technology differs. With the vast majority of people using mobile devices, it is essential that messages are carefully crafted to be seen on a mobile device. As such the messages and titles must be concise and contain fewer words than what you would normally find on desktop crafted message. Today messages are received effectively through mobile devices. Individuals will check their phones anywhere, anytime.

Key Sources for Information

APoint3Acres
  • This site will provide you with a summary of confirmed cases, school closure information, etc. It will break information down by United States and Canada  
  • All of the information is based on real time updates shared using credible sources only
  • You can also find a “News” tab that provides information on the alerts and live updates from the government
Infection Prevention and Control Canada
  • The first thing you will find on this site is the Coronavirus Hotline, followed by a quick index of related links on the latest updates
  • The site also provides you with information on the symptoms of COVID-19 and infection prevention and control
The Government of Canada
  • The Government of Canada provides the latest information on the Coronavirus related to all businesses, and schools
  • There is public health guidance for schools (K-12) and childcare programs. This guidance provides advice to reduce opportunities for transmission of COVID-19 in schools. The guidance is based on the available scientific evidence and expert opinion
  • You can also find recommendations related to hand hygiene, respiratory etiquette, and the use of masks
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
  • The Center for Disease Control and Prevention provides information on schools and childcare and what needs to be done before and during an outbreak
  • You can find information on cleaning and disinfection recommendations
  • There are suggestions on how to talk with children about COVID-19 and a checklist for teachers and parents
World Health Organization
  • The World Health Organization provides up to date information on a global scale
  • You can find helpful tools, myths debunked, videos, and training content

Tools to Support K-12 Schools and District Communications

Home Office Setup

Many of these tools are helpful both to teachers working to move their classrooms online and to communicators working with their team and sharing out messages.

Many of the following tools have offered their platforms and services for free to Schools and Districts during this crisis, those marked with a Star ★ have a specific offering.

NOTE: Updated on August 11. Although some free resources had initial deadlines for offerings, many have been extended. Please confirm with individual sites for further details.

Canva for Education ★
  • Canva provides an intuitive, drag-and-drop platform for creating visuals, including presentations, infographics, websites, reports, worksheets, class schedules, and more
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Zoom ★
  • Zoom helps schools to improve virtual learning by providing secure video communication services for hybrid classrooms, administrative meetings, and office hours
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
SchoolBundle
  • SchoolBundle provides an all-in-one platform for your entire communications strategy, from mobile and parent portals to class sites and e-commerce. Ensure every member of your audience can access the information they want anywhere they want it
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Twitch
  • Twitch is a leading social video platform designed specifically for gamers and creative arts, allowing you to live-stream videos, which can also be made available on-demand afterwards
  • This is ideal for 9-12 & Staff
Discord
  • Discord can be used to communicate over voice, video, and text, similar to that of Skype. Discord is geared specifically to gamers but can easily be used as a tool for online learning and communications
  • This is ideal for 9-12
Google Drive
  • Google Drive is a tool that can be used to share files among a group of individuals
  • This is ideal for 4-12 & Staff
Discovery Education ★
  • Discovery Education provides digital curriculum resources for classroom worldwide, including digital textbooks, multimedia content, and professional development
  • This is ideal for K-12
BrainPOP ★
  • BrainPOP is a learning resources tool, providing games, animated movies, and activities covering a wide-range of topics available in several languages
  • This is ideal for 2-8
Kahoot ★
  • Kahoot lets teachers create a learning game or quiz on any topic, in any language, and share the game with their students to play remotely
  • This is ideal for K-12
Book Creator ★
  • Book Creator can bring your classroom together to create a book. This can be on any topic, with any content, involving text, video, audio and images
  • This is ideal for K-12
Classcraft ★
  • Classcraft turns your existing curriculum into personalized quests, meeting students' unique needs while turning learning into an adventure
  • This is ideal for K-12
Museum of Science★
  • Museum of Science is providing online access to daily live streams, podcasts, family activities, and virtual tours of their exhibits
  • This is ideal for K-12
ilys★
  • ilys is a writing tool allowing the writer to set a word goal and begin writing without having to delete or edit. The tool will hide everything that has been written until the goal is met and lets students focus on their creative writing without distraction
  • This is ideal for 6-12
The Social Express★
  • The Social Express is a social learning program, designed to teach children the skills they need to develop meaningful relationships and successfully navigate our social world
  • This is ideal for K-12
Sumdog★
  • Sumdog provides games that engage children in personalized math, spelling and grammar practice
  • This is ideal for 1-8
Flinn Scientific At-Home Science★
  • Flinn Scientific helps teachers and parents find the right solutions to continue students' progression at home with labs, experiments, lessons and more
  • This is ideal for 4-12
ST Math★
  • ST Math is a flexible instructional tool that provides puzzles and interactive games that represent math topics in a fun and visual way
  • This is ideal for K-6
Tynker ★
  • Tynker is a platform making coding fun for kids, from building games and apps, to learning languages and modding Minecraft
  • This is ideal for 1-12
Pear Deck
  • Pear Deck allows teachers to use existing content and curriculum to design lessons with interactive quizzes, questions, polls and assessments
  • This is ideal for K-8
Elementari ★
  • Elementari allows students to read, write, code and share interactive stories with professional illustrations and sounds
  • This is ideal for 1-6
MobyMax ★
  • MobyMax provides a way to find and fix learning gaps with interactive lessons, games, and activities
  • This is ideal for K-8
We Video ★
  • We Video provides a platform for students to create, collaborate, and share videos, from book reports to science projects
  • This is ideal for K-12
Breakout EDU ★
  • Breakout EDU is an immersive learning platform that transforms lessons into online escape room puzzles
  • This is ideal for K-12
Trello, Jira, and Confluence ★
  • Atlassian is providing access to its products, Jira (issue and project tracking software) and Confluence (team-collaboration) for teams up to ten people, as well as Trello, which can be used to schedule coursework and other activities
  • This is ideal for K-12
LogMeIn ★
  • LogMeIn offers videoconferencing and webinar software to connect staff, teachers, and classrooms
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Loom ★
  • Loom is a video messaging service, allowing users to create and share videos together
  • This is ideal for 4-12
Mailchimp ★
  • Mailchimp is a platform for marketers and communicators to distribute newsletters and other information via e-mail
  • This is ideal for Staff
Slack
  • Slack is a team collaboration and communication platform, allowing users to share messages, videos, and links with one another is a secure chat platform
  • This is ideal for Staff
Vidyard ★
  • This platform allows students, teachers, and staff to create and share videos of themselves or their desktop
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Aperture Education
  • This site provides strategies and activities to help students and adults develop Social-Emotional Learning skills at home, as well as Professional Development for teachers and staff
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Numerade
  • This online education platform is focused on creating exceptional video and interactive content experiences for education making the knowledge and skills of world class educators widely accessible and affordable to student audiences of all backgrounds
  • This is ideal for K-12 & Staff
Summer Camp Hub
  • This hub provides a list of completely free online summer camps to engage students throughout the summer
  • This is ideal for K-12
Everyday Native
  • This resource provides photographs, poems, videos, background information, interpretation methods, discussion questions and ideas for classrooms around everyday life for Native Americans and their history and culture
  • This is ideal for 4-12

Working From Home Tips

Working From Home
Maintain a Routine

The key is to go about your day as you normally would. You should get up at the same time, get dressed, have breakfast and so forth. This will help you stay focused on what needs to get done.

Set up a Workspace

In order for you to get into the mindset of going to work, having a space that is free from distractions is also important. Ideally, you should have a separate room away from too much traffic.

Take Breaks

Its easy to get lost in the work when you’re not in your regular work environment, but you shouldn’t let the work consume you. As a result, you need to take breaks in their entirety. Take an hour break, walk away from your desk/workstation and go do something else.

Socialize with Colleagues

In order to maintain work relationships, its essential to communicate with other staff members. This also allows you to stay connected and be able to bounce ideas off one another.

Plan Out Your Day

Having an agenda or checklist will help you to solidify tasks that need to get done. It will be rewarding to scratch out the tasks as you complete them. You might even find yourself getting ahead and finishing tasks early.

Pick an Ending Time

Just like you were going to the office, you should set yourself a finishing time by which you will end your time at work. By setting an alarm at the end of your day, you are able to wrap up and shut your mind off of work.

Conclusion

Home Office

While you sometimes can’t plan for every exact situation, you can communicate in such a way that provides people with the necessary resources and information. All communication must be victim focused. In other words, the messages must be through the lens of who is directly affected by it.

Additionally, any forms of communications must include facts from credible sources. Various platforms can be used to express information, including Facebook, Twitter and Email. Sources of information on the crisis will often be provided by government sources that have scientific evidence and expert opinions.

To support online learning, various tools are available to assist teachers and students. Lastly, working from home is not familiar to everyone. It is important that you maintain a routine, communicate with your colleagues, have a working space, take scheduled breaks, plan out your day accordingly, and above all pick a time to finish your “work day”.

Join our List

Sign-up for our email list to get exclusive access to content, sneak previews, updates and more!

Zero spam. Unsubscribe at any time.

Return to Top of Page