As COVID-19 makes its way across the US, educational institutions are reviewing their communication and response plans. Oftentimes these plans can be outdated or need to be tailored to handle individual cases. Coronavirus is one such case.
While we're helping our clients communicate in a proactive and informative manner online, we thought it would be important to share this information with others who are reviewing or implementing their plans.
Here are four steps for communicating information on the coronavirus to parents, teachers, and students:
If you have not yet done so, disseminate a "just in case" email to parents, teachers, and students to assure them that the administration is monitoring the situation. Messages should be tailored to each audience and explain the proactive measures your institution is taking to prevent and mitigate exposure to the virus as well as how you will be communicating updates going forward.
Provide updates via email weekly as the coronavirus progresses. If there is not an imminent threat, these updates can be included in a weekly round-up of news or any other communication that is already being sent home. If coronavirus has become an imminent threat to the community, email updates should be sent daily. Even if no new information is received, reassuring parents that your educational institution is taking every measure it can to protect students provide reassurance.
Social media posts are useful to prevent the spread of bad information. Parents sharing gossip can be damaging to any educational institution. Social media posts should be short in nature and link back to a page on the school's website that houses more information. We recommend one initial post to social media and updates as new information is received
A dedicated web page is also an important tool in stopping the spread of bad information. Social media posts and email messages can link to this site. The web page message may be as simple as, "We are monitoring the coronavirus." We also recommend adding links to the CDC's web pages. Some helpful links include:
Additionally, the CDC has resources for administrators of K-12 schools and colleges and universities.
Now is also a good time to review your online communication tools and fast response teams. Our INGAGE team works closely with administrators to develop crisis process and protocols for schools in addition to communications plans.