Now that your district is getting somewhat settled with emergency remote learning during the COVID-19 pandemic, your communication needs and priorities are continuing to evolve.
Here’s a list of some things to consider next:
- What to do about graduation? We know. Everyone is struggling with this issue because even the Plan B option that you have still may not work out. So, check out this guide by Edmentum that is chock full of some really great ideas.
- Giving senior students the special recognition and honor that they deserve: Springtime comes with so many honors, rites of passage events and “last” events. While these things cannot occur in the same way, they can occur differently. Make sure that you are communicating with senior students and their parents. In addition, pull in a group of senior students to see how they want some of their recognitions to occur. Consider using some of the ideas from the Edmentum document (attached and also referenced above) but also consider using Zoom for some virtual events.
- Be aware as to how your community can celebrate events (and mourn events or people, should a situation arise).
- Find creative ways to celebrate other rites of passage, such as the student trip to D.C.
- Sadly, at least one Ohio district has already faced the loss of a student (due to a non-COVID issue) and they have had to find ways to provide support to the family involved and to mourn as a community. This might include things like inviting the community to light a candle/light outside the home on a certain night.
- Communicate with your entire public, especially non-parents: Remember to show them how remote learning is taking place and how teachers/staff are working to make sure learning continues. Use your paper newsletters and consider placing guest editorials into your local newspaper on this topic. Your community needs to continue to hear from you on this topic.
- Live (or nearly live) events: Teleconferencing (Zoom, Skype, Google Meet, etc.) is the thing now and more people are comfortable with it. Consider using it in a few ways:
- Host a town hall event with your community to update them on how things are going with emergency remote learning;
- Host a Twitter town hall like Governor Mike DeWine did where people submitted questions in advance and he answered those questions via video at a set date/time;
- Host community committee meetings on district topics via video. You still have important work that must continue so keep it going and while making it easy and safe for people to participate; and,
- Host your superintendent advisory council meetings and key communicators meetings.
- People want good news and you have it: The news can be so heavy and everyone is shouldering quite a load these days.
- Continue to promote how your teachers/staff/schools are supporting students and the community during this time.
- Have an attitude of gratitude and do your own video montage of good news, just like actor John Krasinski did recently. His first video received such an outpouring of appreciation (titled #SomeGoodNews, aka SGN) that he released a second one. Not only that, he welcomes others to start their own “affiliates,” rip off his idea and to share their own good news (see second video on that). Here are both of his videos:
- Start thinking about what post-COVID-19 looks like for your district. At least one Ohio superintendent is already starting to think about what does/does not come back. It could be that you engage in more teleconferencing to engage more with the community. It might be that fewer school events occur in the evenings to create space for student wellness and balance. Regardless, the governor is right – we will come to the other side of this eventually so start making a list of what your post-COVID-19 might look like while we are all living through it right now. It will make it that much easier later to transition more easily.
- Be aware of copyrights for music you may be using to accompany videos on social media. With the increased use of social media to support storytelling, videos can be a fun and engaging way to connect with your community. Be mindful of copyrights for accompanying or background music. These platforms are closely monitoring content that could lack the rights to use. We recommend using a website that offers access to royalty-free music and crediting that site accordingly in your social media posts. Some good options include:
- Remind staff of your social media acceptable use policy. As more and more connection is taking place through these platforms, this is a good opportunity to remind your staff of what’s acceptable and not when using social media.
- Remember that tone is everything so how you say it matters, too. Be supportive and positive. Also, it is ok if you do not have all the answers. Tell your public that but also say that you are working on it. People deserve to hear your frankness and your commitment to working through things.
Finally, here are some recent communication initiatives from your colleagues.
- Great Senior/Class of 2020 FAQs document
- Fun video project of athletes connecting during social distancing
- A community coming together with a bear scavenger hunt
- Create a single hub of information and resources
- Staff members drive to school just to join in waving at their students/families who are picking up lunch
Remember, we are here to help. Questions? Email the Allerton Hill team today