A Comprehensive Guide for Education Sector Leaders
The fast spread of Coronavirus or COVID-19 poses major questions for education organizations around health, closure, travel, remote work, equity, and distance education. This poses an unprecedented situation that requires a variety of responses that differ based on if you are a school or are currently in an office-based environment. Therefore, we have compiled templates, guidance, ideas, and resources from contributors at top organizations about what they’re currently doing, along with research, recommendations, and resources from the CDC, WHO, Harvard Health Publishing, EdSurge, ISTE, AskAlmanac.com Editors and Contributors, and Johns Hopkins.
This guide is designed to give you resources and specific, tactical actions you can take right now to mitigate the spread of the virus, provide answers to your team’s frequently asked questions, and keep your education organization running to the extent possible and safe.
Quick Key Resources:
🎒 Talking to Children about COVID-19
🚪 School Closure Planning Guide
⚖️ Legal Guide for School Leaders
🌎 Access a Real-Time Map of School Closures
♿ Providing Services to Children with Disabilities
⚕️ Guidance for Administrators of US K-12 Schools From the CDC
🌡️ Access the Global Dashboard with Real-Time Reporting of Cases
🥄 Child Nutrition Program Meal Service during COVID-19 Outbreaks
📥 Download a List of Free Resources Being Offered to Schools and Educators
📚 Key Actions and Guiding Questions to Prepare for Continued Student Learning
What You’ll Find
This guidebook has templates, resources, and checklists you can customize for:
📝 Communicating with employees and constituencies about COVID-19
💻 Transitioning your education organization to remote work
😷 Keeping your office and school healthy and clean
🛫 Changing your travel policies
🚌 Preparing for continued student learning
1. Email all employees to notify them that you’re working on an action plan and TO NOT COME IN if they feel sick.
🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: All-organization email template by Lifelabs
🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Letter to Families by the Northshore School District.
2. Order hand sanitizer now: many stores and brands are already out of stock. Grainger currently has fluctuating availability with the Dial Hand Sanitizer currently in-stock and ready to ship directly from the supplier at the time of writing.
3. Suspend all unnecessary domestic and all international travel.
4. Switch to working remote and virtual meetings. Ask all visitors, in-person meetings, and on-site interviews if they can meet virtually. Use Zoom (Free with Application), Google Hangouts (Expanded Access Education Edition), Go2Meeting (Three Months Free), or WebEx (Free Tier Available). WorkMonger offers a Remote-IQ service that can transition your entire interviewing and screening process to remote.
Send an all organization email notifying your organization that you’re working on an action plan, and note any immediate precautions. See the examples below. Most organizations state:
- “Please work from home immediately if you have traveled in the last 2 weeks, feel any signs of sickness, or believe you may have come into contact with the virus either through travel to infected areas, or contact with individuals who have traveled. Otherwise, please begin the transition to remote work unless you have been informed that you perform a critical function that must be done in person.“
Send an email to all managers and leadership, notifying them to maintain calm.
Create a Slack, chat channel, or listserv dedicated to Coronavirus communications.
- Craig Battin at Earnest says: “I would suggest that companies create a dedicated Slack (or chat) channel for critical updates related to actions employees should be aware of related to precautionary measures, etc. We use #announcements and have made it clear that this is solely for broadcasting important updates to our distributed teams and offices.”
Put together a task force. Identify employees who will be key point people and make up the crisis management and communication team. Part of this should be dedicated to forming a hierarchy outlining how information should be shared within the organization.
- Trav Walkowski at Employmetrics notes: “We’ve put together a task force that is monitoring developments and CDC recommendations. They send out email updates and have a place to submit questions. We’re even conducting 100% remote tests to make sure our tech could handle it if we needed to close the office.”
- All-organization email template by Lifelabs
- All-organization email template by Eden Health
- All management email template by Lifelabs
- All-organization status update email template by DuoLingo
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: All-organization status update email template by Coinbase
- Communication approaches and recommended verbiage by Lifelabs
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Letter to Families by the Northshore School District.
Create a remote work transition team. Make sure to include senior leadership, and people who represent both teams that have the most distributed process as well as those with the least experience. Take this Remote Readiness Questionnaire and review the recommendations.
Document your processes and culture. Develop a mentality that “if it’s not documented, it’s not actionable” to help your team transition from co-located norms to all-remote norms.
Communicate how remote work is different. Share your vision and highlight key changes to communications infrastructure from “business as usual” – things like pair-working, remote “coffee chats,” and when to use what tools in your communication/technology stack.
Create and enforce rules to improve your remote work culture. These can include things like requiring everyone to reject meetings without an agenda
✍️ Additional Resources
- Transitioning to Remote Checklist by GitLab – 6 Steps to migrate your team to all-remote
- How to improve your operations to be remote first by GitLab – 10 actionable tactics GitLab uses to improve remote work (e.g. “Decline all meetings that lack an agenda”)
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Transitioning from Offices to Distributed Teams during a Crisis by John O’Duinn – Author “Distributed Teams” lays out his transition plan
- Remote working when you’re not a remote team by Kiana Sharifi – Succinct overview of remote transition for organizations.
- Slack on Slack: Adapting the Way We Work When Offices Need to Close by Slack – all the features you need to know about to manage your remote transition
- Amid Coronavirus Fears, How to Support a Shift to Remote Work by Exaqueo – 6 tips for the remote transition
- How to manage a remote team with no prior experience by Freddie Laker
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Learn more about remote work in the education sector. Explore common misconceptions of remote work, workforce stats concerning remote roles, and five proven benefits of remote work for education sector employers.
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Tools for Remote Work. Access a comprehensive and curated database of remote work tools across a variety of organizational functions.
- How to Set Up Remote During Coronavirus by Marten Mickos – CEO of HackerOne shares his tips for managing remote during COVID-19.
- Working Together When We’re Not Together by Veronica Gilrane – Tips from Google
- FAQ: Remote work FAQ by Coinbase
- Work From Home (WFH) survey: Remote work capabilities survey for employees by LifeLabs
- For managers: Guide to managing a remote team by Megan Berry, VP Product
- For remote teams: Tips for All Remote Teams by Darren Murph, Head of Remote
- Remote meetings: All-Remote Meetings by Darren Murph, Head of Remote
- Best practices: How to make remote work awesome by John Starmer, Dir of Education
- Policy: Remote work policy by Hubspot
- Policy: Work from Home organization Policy by Sajari
- 🍼For parents: Support employees with young children by GitLab
- 🐕 For pets: Tips if you have pets by Ollie Pets
- 🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Work from Home Manual – A huge collection of some of the best tips/hacks, resources and best practices shared by pro #WFH workers around the Internet.
- Encourage employees to make clear arrangements with their manager around what would happen in a remote situation.
- Clarify communication platforms to use (e.g., Zoom or Google Hangouts)
- Create a cameras-on norm for video calls
- Have a designated tech support person or team
- Plan remote work activities. For example, you could host a remote lunch and learn professional development session. This could feature training on how to work remotely or how to manage remote teams. You could also offer peer-to-peer sessions on a variety of topics.
- Create fun cultural opportunities. You could host a “show and tell” where each of your remote team workers brings an item to the video call, which could be an item with strong sentimental value or a personal story. They then tell a 5-minute short story about the item and respond to questions. Here are some more great ideas for team building activities for remote teams.
- Clarify necessary outcomes (e.g., goals, “definitions of done”), so the focus is on what needs to get done vs. how many hours someone works.
- Encourage managers to have 1-1 conversations to provide support, reassurance, and ask how they can set up employees for success.
- Hold daily or weekly stand-ups/status check-ins for shared accountability (bonus: gives a sense of connection, certainty, and progress).
- Consider the use of time tracking tools if you experience productivity problems.
- Consider setting-up a virtual office using free tools like Wurkr
- ALSO: Don’t worry about it too much right now – prioritize public health concerns.
- Craig Battin at Earnest says, “My observation so far is that people are working harder than they might if they had to make the typical morning commute. My team and colleagues seem invigorated and eager to talk with one another, keep busy, and stay productive in these interesting times. It’s too early to say for certain, but I suspect that doing great work may turn out to be a nice distraction from everything that’s happening right now. Personally, I have gotten more work done in two WFH days than I would in 4 days at the office.”
- WFH if sick (or just take sick days off) – very common
- If you traveled to an at-risk region in past 14 days – very common
- If someone you are in close contact with is sick or traveled – very common
- Encourage all to work from home regardless – trending and becoming common
- Only if doctors require quarantine – rare
- Only if CDC / WHO / local authorities require it – rare
Adopt a no handshake policy. Download and print this sign by Beeswax.
Put hand sanitizer at all major entrances/exits, and gathering areas..
Share the symptoms list from the CDC in employee communications.
Place flyers and signs with hygiene tips in bathrooms and around the office and school.
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
Twice or more daily cleaning of bathrooms and kitchens.
Stock up on face masks and provide to employees.
🏆 WorkMonger’s pick: Review the guidance from the CDC regarding school sanitation.
- Instruct any employee who reports feeling sick to leave immediately and recommend self-quarantine.
- Require any employee who reports feeling sick to stay home for 14 days.
- Share CDC steps for what to do if you think you have coronavirus
- If employees are sick for an extended period of time (people tend to recover within a few days to a few weeks, depending on their current health), they may be concerned about using up their sick time or PTO.
- Notify employees in your next update that you are assessing sick leave and PTO policies for employees who have confirmed cases of COVID-19.
- FMLA leave info for COVID-19 for US employers
- Occupation safety updates and policies on COVID from OSHA
Suspend all unnecessary domestic organizational travel immediately. Assure employees it is okay to cancel travel to any areas with reported cases even if you lose money.
Prohibit travel to all international destinations. The State Department has raised all international locations to Level 4 Global Status which is the top-tier warning
Encourage employees to return to the United States if abroad or prepare to shelter-in-place.
Implement a mandatory 14-day work from home period for any employee returning from any international location.
Restrict office visitations for people who may have traveled to any international location.
Close any offices if it becomes suspected that an infected person entered the building or came into contact with any employees.
Switch events to a virtual format if applicable.
Switch all candidate interviews and meetings to a virtual format. WorkMonger can provide you with a platform to conduct remote interviews via our Remote-IQ Services.
- Pandemic response travel guide: geographic areas by the level of infection from LifeLabs
- 🏆WorkMonger’s pick: 📈Tracker: COVID-19 reported cases and deaths by Johns Hopkins
- Stay up to date on all current travel warnings by the CDC here
- Stay up to date on all organization level travel restrictions here
Many schools are trying to figure out if they should transition to online/distance learning during a shutdown. The real question should be around transitioning to remote education vs. closing and reallocating days to a future time or waiving days. A key factor in this decision is accessibility to technology. Many students lack access to the internet and/or the technology necessary to access online content; thus, moving to a distance learning model can create serious educational equity concerns if not properly addressed. Access a school closure plan here.
Many students do worse online than in face-to-face classes, and the most vulnerable students are the most negatively affected, so educational equity becomes a concern. While all types of students in a study conducted by a Washington State Community College suffered decrements in performance in online courses, those with the strongest declines were males, younger students, Black students, and students with lower grade point averages. There is also strong evidence that online courses harm the students who need the most help, as Susan Dynarski explores in her New York Times article.
Nevertheless, these are challenging times, and hard decisions have to be made. Remote education may easily be the only safe, plausible option available for your community. If your school does decide to deploy a distance learning model, your first question should not be, “What technology stack should we use?” The first question must be, “How do we support our most vulnerable students and ensure educational equity.” This includes how your school would support students who rely on their school for food and shelter and how you plan to provide equal access to students with special needs. Additionally, how might you address students’ access to devices, technologies, and a reliable internet connection in a world where census data shows an estimated 17% of U.S. students do not have access to computers at home, and 18% do not have home access to broadband Internet. Access a database of free and low cost internet access options here.
For further guidance and support, Access the Instruction Partners Resource Hub, which provides guidance on planning your response, supporting student health, safety, and nutrition, determining your instructional model, communicating your plan, and supporting your team during the pandemic. ISTE strongly recommends that all schools have a digital learning plan and tools in place.
Video Broadcasting Tools (System/School Level)
- Zoom Video Webinars
- BlueJeans Events
- YouTube Live
- Facebook Live
- Google Hangouts/Meet
- GSuite (Docs, Slides, Sheets, etc.)
- iWork for iCloud (Page, Keynote, Numbers)
- Explain Everything
- Office365 (Word, Excel, PowerPoint)
In support of our education sector colleagues and clients, WorkMonger is responding to the growing coronavirus pandemic with resources and services to help education organizations stay up-to-date, prepare, and address current and future challenges.
We are here to help in any way that we can and we stand in solidarity with you as we all face this unprecedented situation that is so greatly impacting the education sector.
If you are an education organization needing support of any kind related to hiring or retaining talent during these challenging times, please reach out directly to our CEO and Founder, John Troy, at [email protected]. We’d be honored to help in any way that we can.
We are trying to keep this guide as up-to-date as possible; however, the COVID-19 situation is rapidly evolving on an hourly basis so we encourage you to consult the latest local, state, and federal guidance that is made available.
This guide does not provide medical advice; it is intended for informational purposes only. It is not a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Never ignore professional medical advice in seeking treatment because of something you have read in this guide. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your doctor or dial 911.
The information above is not the same as health or legal advice, where an attorney applies the law to your specific circumstances, so we insist that you consult an attorney if you’d like advice on your interpretation of this information or its accuracy. In a nutshell, you may not rely on this as legal advice, nor as a recommendation of any particular legal understanding.
If you have any questions about this guide or have a resource you would like us to add, update, or remove please email: [email protected]
Guide Updated on March 23, 2020