Communicating with Parents in the New Normal: What to Say and How to Do It
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is urging educators and parents nationwide to prepare to return to physical classes. While the CDC believes that this shift to in-person schooling will benefit educators, parents, and children, many parents are understandably hesitant. A new poll from the American Federation of Teachers reveals that 69% of parents are worried about their child’s safety in physical classes.
Thus, to appease these valid concerns, school leaders need to establish a clear line of communication with parents. Because children’s wellness is an important and sensitive subject, here are a few of the most pressing topics to cover:
Update safety protocols
There is a seemingly endless stream of COVID-19 related guidelines coming out on a daily basis. While this is helpful for facilities and operators hoping to get clear insights from federal and local agencies, the deluge of information can be overwhelming for parents. This is why as soon as your school has rolled out new safety protocols it’s important to share them in as much detail as possible. This can include mask policies, handwashing requirements, social distancing protocols, and an emergency management plan should anyone in the school fall ill. As much as possible, you should supplement this discussion with handy printouts or visual aids.
To add credence, get specific staff members — like health administrators and nurses — that have the necessary skills to help roll out these procedures. Health administrators can assist in upholding safety rules and ensure that everyone complies. They can even harness school data to fine-tune general health guidelines for your school population. In fact, this skill is so in demand right now that the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics foresees a 17% growth rate in graduates coming from traditional and online health administration degrees in the coming years. In this particular case, it's administrators who have trained in health informatics that are needed, as their background in analytics allows them to draw valuable insights from raw data.
Meanwhile, because parents are very particular about who treats their children, outline your school nurses’ expertise. Though most states require school nurses to complete an associate’s degree in nursing, some also have master’s degrees as nurse practitioners. If possible, you can even set a meeting between parents and staff so any queries can be answered ahead of time.
New parental responsibilities
Even as physical classes resume, it’s important for parents to understand that they’ve still got a big role to play in their children’s school life. For example, social distancing makes riding school buses tricky, so parents will likely have to cover pick-ups and drop-offs. In this case, you can create and then explain a new parent drop-off and pick-up scheme.
Another important task that may require parental involvement is during meal times. In order to limit unnecessary interactions, some schools are requiring their students to bring packed lunches for the time being. If this is the case at your school, make sure to let parents know in advance. Many parents will also be returning to work during this time, so take the initiative and send out weekly memos with updates. This way, busy parents know when to expect updates from you without feeling bombarded. You can also introduce applications like Seer’s Parent Portal which makes messaging more convenient. With it, parents and staff can access contact information, communicate with the school directly, and track their children’s schedules, making it a much more streamlined process.
Focus on compassion and support
As physical classes resume, economists hope that this will ease the burden of working parents — 42% of whom reported they had to reduce their work hours for child-rearing in 2020. However, many parents have also expressed concerns that the 87% increase in childcare costs may still be too much to bear. As such, it doesn’t hurt to express empathy during these trying times. Some parents may be too proud to admit the toll this pandemic has had on them, so you can check-in on them during more private conversations. If your school can afford it, maybe you can even implement new payment schemes that are easier to keep up with. In the long run, building a relationship developed on compassion has the potential to benefit all parties. After all, as teachers, your students’ well-being is your top priority.
In this time of uncertainty, focusing on good communication not only keeps parents happy, but also lays the groundwork to improve trust, safety, and cooperation moving forward. Should you need any help to create more streamlined, efficient, and useful communication agendas, please check out Child Care Seer’s services here.
Written exclusively for Childcareseer.com
by Alessandria Chaser
About Child Care Seer
Software that automates everything for your daycare, pre-school, early education learning center, or after-school learning program.