Coronavirus – how to get your school/academy ready

Published by Phil Reynolds on 13 March 2020

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The coronavirus outbreak has developed into not only a global health crisis but also proved to become a challenge for many entities around the world. Whilst many businesses naturally are concerned about suppliers and customers, for schools, the outbreak can also effect employees, stakeholders and potentially sources of other income.

But outside of the hysteria and concern the outbreak has raised, it should also act as an opportunity for schools to consider their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. Business continuity plans are an integral part of a school’s policies and should set out how your school will recover in the event of an emergency. The government’s guidance on emergency planning and response should also be referred to and can be found here.

Before you establish your own plan, you should summarise which specific contingencies you’re planning for. These will include:

  • The effect of a pandemic on your employees – namely employee absence of a significant nature and the cost of sick pay
  • The effect of a pandemic on your stakeholders – namely your students and parents but also your “customers” who use the school for lettings or other reasons
  • The effect of a pandemic on your school – reallocations of your time and resources will change drastically in a short period of time. Closures of the school may also impact on time and resource

Other questions you may wish to ask or prepare for:

  • What should we do about future planned school trips abroad?
  • Should we cancel any group events? – parents evening, school plays/productions
  • Do we receive exchange students? If so, what is our plan for this?
  • In the event of a school closure, do we have a press release drafted?
  • Can we potentially teach students using online resources?
  • Can we help nearby schools in anyway in the event of a closure?

In addition, you may wish to consider how your school will in turn effect the pandemic. For example, a typical school day may become a health risk and therefore adapting as necessary may help to avoid the risk of spreading the virus. For example, you may require staff and pupils to wear protective face masks or wash their hands before entering the school/classroom. Who will pay for the face masks? Are they available? How much delay will there be in a school day while everyone washes their hands?

It is also important to communicate the steps you are taking to prevent contamination as this can be instrumental to the health of the entire community and the school’s reputation. When employees and stakeholders see management approach a pandemic scenario with scrutiny and diligence, everyone then starts to take things more seriously. Schools have a social obligation to attempt to limit the spread of the virus.

Remember, stakeholders will be watching with intrigue and will remember what you do to help or hurt during this outbreak.

Staff, parents and young people with questions about COVID-19 related to education can contact the helpline as follows:

The opening hours are 8am to 6pm (Monday to Friday).

The latest guidance for education settings is available on GOV.UK

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