Keep calm and carry on: communications and closures for schools

How to remain engaged with your school community throughout the COVID-19 crisis

We are facing unprecedented times. In the wake of COVID-19, organisations across the country have had little choice but to shut up shop, send staff home and adapt to new ways of working.

For schools, however, closing for the foreseeable future isn’t an option. School leaders are confronted with a number of challenges, as they’re responsible for the care and education of children of key workers, as well as supporting students at home.

Students, parents and staff are likely feeling a lot of uncertainty about what the future will bring. While you may not have the answers to all their questions, maintaining regular, reliable communications will go some way in keeping things ‘normal’ in these most abnormal times.

Here are a few ways to help your school community to keep calm and carry on in the face of closures and crises:

Plan, plan, plan

Determining what your day-to-day communications plan will look like will bring some clarity to your team. Consider how and when you will communicate with parents at home; how often you intend to circulate learning resources and whether you will continue to run assemblies. Do parents need to check your school social media platforms and who is responsible for sending the school newsletter?

Establishing your communications strategy is key but sharing the details with your team and parents is just as important.

While you may not have the answers to all their questions, maintaining regular, reliable communications will go some way in keeping things ‘normal’ in these most abnormal times

 

Straight into parent hands

For circulating urgent messages en masse, text messaging remains the method of choice for most schools. Email, too, is ideal for staying in touch with your parent community.

However, emails can often be lost in inboxes and, for non-urgent information, text messages are restrictive due to character limits. A number of online communication platforms are available to schools today, offering dedicated apps and online portals.

In-app messaging ensures parents still receive messages instantly. Many platforms provide handy reporting on communications performance so you can see who has and hasn’t received messages – ideal for keeping an eye on hard-to-reach parents.

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At-home learning

While it’s difficult to tell what the future may bring, keeping things as normal as possible for children is important. Facilitating at-home education not only minimises impact to student learning but provides a distraction to the uncertainty affecting their lives.

Sharing resources and distance learning packs presents a few challenges. You need a secure, convenient way of making documents and media available, as well as providing year groups and classes with relevant items.

There are a number of options available to schools today to support remote learning. Ideally, you need a platform which integrates with your school MIS, enabling targeted communications.

Remember, not every family will have access to the internet and your communications strategy must take these parents and students into account. Choose a platform which enables paper copies where necessary, and work with parents to establish a method of communication which suits them. Now more than ever, it is vital to ensure no student misses out.

Staff engagement

With your parent engagement in hand, it’s time to think about staff. Whether it’s circulating plans, news and updates, or even just a quick ‘hello’, keeping your team engaged is key. If some staff are working from home, plan a weekly (or even daily) video call to stay in touch; now more than ever, teamwork makes the dream work!

IRIS Education is here to help. Our market-leading parent engagement platforms, PS Connect and ParentMail, can support your school to face the future with certainty, despite these uncertain times.

Whatever your needs, we’re ready to support your school – let’s get started.


For more information, please call: 01733 595959 or visit: iris.co.uk

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