School Business Affairs May 2020

28 MAY 2020 | SCHOOL BUSINESS AFFAIRS Learning from COVID-19 Education leaders should take time to document what they were and were not prepared to do when COVID-19 closed schools. By Cody Santiago RISK MANAGEMENT to offer alternatives to in-school learning and to adapt to changing technology issues. Careful documen- tation will highlight the problems, their causes, and how the dis- trict adapted. For example, the district might not have been able to provide enough devices for staff and students to work from home. Limited Inter- net access may have prevented some from working remotely. Strategies to ensure all students received meals may have not been in place. Plans for paying staff who were on leave when schools were closed might not have been considered. Document the problems and use that documentation as a basis for conversations with the business, operations, instructional, and human resources departments, as well as with necessary bargaining units. Devise a plan to solve problems now so they won’t be a problem in the future. Plan for More with Less The mantra of COVID-19 has been “plan to do more with less.” This is what a continuity of operations plan (COOP) is designed to do. Research- ers from the Harvard T. H. Chan School of Public Health recently told the Wall Street Journal , “We should prepare for annual or sporadic outbreaks every few years.” Dis- trict leaders who heed the warning must develop, implement, and test a COOP to prepare for future flu A s school leaders continue to adjust operations and instruction amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, they should reflect on their efforts— past and present—to provide instruction to and from remote loca- tions, feed students, and ensure staff and student safety. As difficult as it may be to hear “How can we do better next time?” the reality is there will be a next time. As they look to the future, what can school leaders do now? Document Everything Maintain documentation of how operations changed from the normal (blue sky) to the new normal (gray sky). Everyone who has a role in providing instructions, meals, com- munications, etc., should document their actions, decisions, new policies and strategies, communications, and emergency contracts. If the district has not trained school leaders in the incident man- agement process, reach out to the local emergency management office for instructions on how to provide training when things return to nor- mal. During emergencies ranging from wildfires, to hurricanes, to pan- demics, and more, the incident man- agement process ensures detailed documentation, reduces redundant efforts and communication, and organizes personnel. Identify What Worked—and Didn’t As districts began closing schools, education leaders realized how well- prepared they were (or were not) PHOTOCREO BEDNAREK/STOCK.ADOBE.COM