Dear Clients and Colleagues,
A number of schools are reaching out to us for a communications strategy regarding the new coronavirus, or 2019-nCoV, which has recently emerged out of Wuhan, China.
While there are different levels of risk, depending on where your school is located and its type (e.g., boarding, day), concern is growing and, in some cases, panic is spreading about this virus.
We believe it is essential in cases like these, when information is conflicting and media representation can distort the danger, to be proactive in your school communications. Experience has shown us that schools should communicate in a measured but timely manner rather than remain silent, as parents are reassured when they are made aware of your school's attention to health and safety protocols.
To that end, here are some guidelines for you to consider.
Messaging can include:
- "The health and safety of students and our school community is our highest priority."
- "The school is closely monitoring international and national advisories from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and staying in close contact with the local health department."
- "The school is also monitoring any overseas travel to or from China by all of our employees and students and is reviewing the status of any planned trips to Asia."
Further action steps include:
- Share that you have appointed a staff member (ideally a professional health and wellness staffer) to closely monitor the website of your local health department and provide updates to the leadership team.
- Review the protocols in place for handling virus-like symptoms and communicate best practices to your school community, including faculty and staff.
- Refer to the NAIS website and article here for resources and best practices.
- As an example, TABS sent the following letter, click here to its member schools.
We know moments like these can be stressful and uncertain for your school community, and we encourage you to reach out to The Jane Group should you have questions or need direction regarding your specific situation.