Create a Flexible Back-to-School Pandemic Plan with Mass Notification


Your Back-to-School Pandemic Plan

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has created a challenge for schools, districts, colleges and universities across the country that are trying to navigate the best ways to provide safe learning environments for students and staff. Some have chosen to continue virtual learning, while others are planning to reopen with precautions in place to limit the spread of the disease. Some are opting for a blended approach that includes partial in-person instruction while keeping virtual elements. Whatever the case may be, schools need to be able to communicate new guidelines, procedures, and expectations with everyone to ensure success. Without the right tools in place though, this can be next to impossible.

Many schools are either implementing or adapting mass notifications systems to help them share information about what their communities can expect when the new school year begins. Mass notifications can reach large groups of people simultaneously with consistent information to help minimize confusion. This is particularly important as the situation surrounding COVID-19 continues to develop and may result in changes to your school’s initial plans. In this blog post, we’ll provide tips from creating a flexible back to school pandemic plan using mass notification.

Mass Notification for In-Person Learning

For schools that are reopening, whether that’s fully or in a limited capacity, mass notification can offer several benefits to help mitigate the risk of the disease spreading on school grounds. The first can happen before schools even open their doors. Mass emails, SMS text messages, and push notifications can be sent to mobile devices informing people about new procedures that will be in place. This could be a mandatory mask policy, encouraged social distancing, temperature checks at the door, or new ways classrooms, lunchtimes, and recess will be handled. Sharing this information ahead of time will help avoid disruptions when schools reopen.

When schools are reopened, mobile notifications can also be used to prescreen students and staff. Daily text messages can be sent to families and teachers asking if they are exhibiting symptoms related to COVID-19. If anyone responds “yes” administrators can follow up and ask them to stay home and get tested. Within schools, on-premises devices like IP speakers, desk phones, digital signage, desktop computers, and more can be used to broadcast audio and text messages throughout buildings with health and safety reminders. Messages can include prompts about washing hands, maintaining social distance, wearing masks, and other relevant information as it pertains to your school’s plan.

Messages for Remote Learning

Schools that choose to remain remote can still take advantage of mobile notifications to stay connected while they wait for conditions to be safe for reopening. SMS text messages, emails and push notifications can all be used for updates on how your school will operate in the fall and share daily updates as guidelines and conditions change. Desktop notifications can be used to end and start classes to help keep students and teachers on time and avoid disruptions with the ongoing school day.

What if Someone Tests Positive?

If someone who has been on school ground tests positive for COVID-19, mass notifications can be used to help share information about how the school will handle the situation. This could be information about the school closing to undergo cleaning, classes that were exposed that are being asked to stay home, or additional precautions that will be put in place to prevent further spread within the school.

This type of planning requires coordination from multiple parties, and mass notification can assist schools in ongoing incident management as well. Following a notification distribution, select school leaders can be invited into a virtual space via tools like Microsoft Teams and Cisco Webex Teams. This brings everyone together quickly so they can collaborate on the best course of action to take.

No matter what your school’s plan is for the fall, mass notification can help you prepare for a successful and safe start for everyone.




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