We've been asked by Campus Suite to share our school crisis PR expertise. So here's some (no charge) advice from the Donovan Group on how schools can hit the ground running in response to the Coronavirus outbreak. Excerpted from the Donovan Group Coronavirus Communication page, where you can also find a link to customizable templates.
4 Coronavirus talking points for schools:
We recommend communicating some key messages and talking points with your parents/guardians, staff and students related to Coronavirus:
1. The school district is closely monitoring the situation and is making the necessary preparations in case the COVID-19 becomes more prevalent in our community. For now, there have been no indications of an coronavirus outbreak, but that could change as time goes on.
2. We all play a role in reducing the likelihood of a coronavirus outbreak in our school district community. We encourage everyone to practice good habits, including:
- Wash your hands regularly, especially after using the restroom and before preparing or consuming food. Wash for 20 seconds, using soap and hot water. Be sure to also wash your fingertips.
- Avoid coughing or sneezing into your hands or in the air. Always try to cough or sneeze into a tissue, and then throw the tissue away. If you don’t have a tissue, cough/sneeze into your arm.
- As much as you can, avoid touching your eyes, mouth and nose.
- If children are feeling sick, please keep them home from school. Allow them some time to feel better so that they do not risk infecting others.
3. We will continue to communicate with you in the days and weeks to come. It is possible that we may need to cancel classes if it appears the coronavirus has affected our community in a significant way.
4. As always, the safety of our students, staff and families remains our top priority. We will act out an abundance of caution to protect everyone’s health and wellbeing.
We have found that the most effective way to communicate this information is through emails or letters home to parents, staff emails, text alerts and PA announcements at school. You may also use the messages above to provide statements to the local media. We’ve seen that many reporters are looking to “localize” this story, seeking comment from school district leaders about how they are preparing for COVID-19.
Prior to founding the Donovan Group, Joe was vice president of an education research firm, spokesperson for the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction and a director in the office of US Senator Herb Kohl. Joe has a MA degree in educational policy studies from the University of Wisconsin-Madison and is also the founder of ProPRcopy and DonovanGHC.