With many schools around the world already having to shut their doors, and many countries still deliberating school closure, how can you make sure that you retain a strong school community and continue to support student learning if your school closes?
1. Keep communicating
It seems the most obvious tip, but it’s also perhaps the most important. Keeping in touch with your staff members, parents and students throughout any school closures will help reassure your community and keep them updated with any key changes they need to know about. This includes hints and tips to see you through self-isolation, updates on school activities and potential reopen dates, as well as setting tasks for students to keep learning going and ensuring parents stay informed of their child/children’s progress.
Suddenly students are at home 24/7, interacting with their peers and teachers exclusively through digital platforms, so how do you encourage parental buy-in by demonstrating the quality of online schooling, read our recent article here with a few helpful tips.
The Principal of Kellett School in Hong Kong, Mark Steed, published a helpful guide includes practical tips on communicating with staff, students and parents with advice on answering questions, dealing with the media and being responsive. ‘Covid-19 Advice for School Leaders: Pt3 – Communications Strategy‘
2. Collaborate online
Even if your school building is closed, it doesn’t have to be a barrier to teaching and learning. Whether it’s through your school’s MIS system or an integrated Learning Management System that is accessible 24/7 wherever you are in the world can help take your school digital. By using a system like iSAMS, which is hosted in the cloud and accessible remotely, you can keep essential school data at your fingertips even if your school needs to close.
Plus, making the most of synchronisation with platforms such as Microsoft School Data Sync and/or a Learning Management System, can support you in building a complete school community online.
Related: How To Synchronise Your MIS with Microsoft
Tip: make sure you are still meeting GDPR requirements when using online learning platforms – read our guide here.
Read a recent article we wrote around how to set up a successful Virtual Learning Environment.
3. Digitise admissions
Even in the face of school closures, you still need to concentrate on boosting student numbers to ensure the ongoing success of your school. We understand that hosting Open Days is a huge part of this process; the best advert for your school is the school itself. However, with Government advice moving towards self-isolation, this may not physically be possible – but there’s no reason you couldn’t host a virtual Open Day.
Give prospective applicants a virtual tour of your school and encourage them to speak to select members of staff via an online chatroom. If you’ve got something similar to the iSAMS Admissions Portal, you can then direct people to fill in their details in an online form built into your school’s website. In doing so, you can make sure student enrolment continues to progress ahead of the next academic year and that you meet your strategic targets.
4. Monitor wellbeing
Monitoring student wellbeing has been a hot topic in the Education sector over recent years and becomes even more challenging amidst current events. If your school does need to close, then many of your students will have to navigate potentially lengthy periods of self-isolation away from social gatherings. These lonely periods could result in a drop in their mental, as well as their physical, wellbeing.
To help you keep an eye on these students during this period, we’d recommend looking towards digital tools such as our Wellbeing Manager, which can help you log all safeguarding and wellbeing concerns, share this information with relevant members of staff, flag significant life events and/or high priority concerns and record onward actions.
Related: How to Manage Mental Health in Schools
Educational Psychologist Angie Wigford, from Dover Court International School, has written an excellent piece on developing emotional resilience during difficult times, useful for both students and staff.
5. Keep finances on track
Critical to the ongoing success of your school, you’ll also need to ensure that your financial management is impacted as minimally as possible. By having an integrated cloud-based accounting platform to provide your Bursary with ongoing support, you can ensure that your Finance Team can continue to access key financial information wherever they are and whenever they need to.
The added benefits of digitising your core financial processes also include: automated PO and workflow approvals to reduce the time spent on administrative tasks, a clear and easily accessible accountability trail, and inbuilt communication features to notify parents of any discounts and/or outstanding fees as appropriate.
By keeping your school’s finances ticking over in this way, you can ensure that your Senior Leadership Team never lose sight of your financial trajectories and future forecasting, helping inform key decision-making to shape your school’s strategic direction.
A helpful article here with advice for Business Managers around the challenges that faces fee-charging schools at this time and tips on Financial Preparations, written by the Principal of Kellett School in Hong Kong, Mark Steed.
6. Learn from one another
Unfortunately, some schools have already been put in a position where they’ve had to close in light of the COVID-19 outbreak. Learning as they go, they have been very good at sharing some of their key hints and tips with the rest of the Education community should they face similar circumstances. One such example is Jennie Devine, Principal of St Louis School in Milan, who spoke to TES about her experience of a school in lockdown.
By continuing to communicate and support one another through digital mediums (where the physical isn’t possible), we can help every member of the school community through any potential school closures and try to ensure it interrupts student learning as minimally as possible.
- 5 tips for promoting student wellbeing in your school June 10, 2019
- 5 top tips to make writing your end of term report easier March 26, 2019
- The impact of exam season on student wellbeing June 06, 2019
- How to prepare your school timetables May 23, 2019
- Preparing schools in the new normal May 21, 2020