We’ve heard it so many times that communication is the most important part of any relationship – professional and personal. Clear communication is what will make or break your program as you get set to reopen after this COVID-19 crisis. One of my favorite authors, Brene Brown says, “clear is kind.” So, as you set to open your doors, you need to have a plan, and it needs to be clear and presented to the parents well.
Here are a few things you should do that have worked for me with getting parents ready:
Send a Survey
Send out a survey to parents to see what they are anxious about, excited about, when they will send their child back, etc. This will help you figure out staffing, tuition, expenses, etc., and it will give parents a sense that you are preparing for their return. If you have any fields in your survey that allow for questions, make sure to respond within 24 hours.
Need help creating your survey? Use our COVID-19 Reopening Parent Survey Template for a comprehensive list of questions to include!
Update Your Handbook
You don’t have to create an entirely new handbook per se, but have one document that lays everything out that you will be implementing during this re-opening. Be sure to include new drop off and pick up procedures, cleaning procedures, mask wearing procedures, etc. This will really help parents get all the information they need in one location. On the last page of the handbook, have a receipt that parents sign so that it gives them responsibility to agree and adhere to what is inside the handbook. Consider having the handbook be digital with digital signature to avoid having hard copies to handle.
Use our COVID-19 Parent Handbook Template to make sure you’re thoroughly updating your handbook with the right information!
Host a Video Q&A
When you have everything that you possibly can have planned and ready, then it would be good to have a few options for a Zoom session where parents can ask follow-up questions and hear from you as you lay out the vision for what is ahead. This is a great time to encourage parents and assure them that it is going to be okay. Acknowledge their hesitation and fears, but affirm and confirm their decision as being a great one! Since parents can’t always make it to one zoom session time, give two or three options. I offer one at lunch time and one in the evening. When you begin the Q&A, review Zoom etiquette and how you will be answering questions (typing questions in the chat, allowing parents to unmute, raising hand, etc.). Always end on a light note and with a message of encouragement.
Share Videos of What to Expect
If you are introducing new drop off/pick up procedures, it would be great to provide a visual for parents by doing a video tutorial. Have a few teachers pretend to be dropping off/picking up a child, and narrate what you are doing while filming it. Send this video to parents a few days before opening so that they can know what to expect. It would also be great to do a video tour for parents so that they can see what the classrooms look like and any changes made to accommodate this re-opening. Since parents will most likely not be able to enter the building or go much further than the lobby, a video tour would set them at ease.
Lastly, consider making a fun video of your teachers doing something in their masks. Something my teachers did was do a version of “Brown bear, brown bear, what do you see?”and instead they said “Student, student, who do you see?” and then the video would show one of our teachers in a mask, and the teacher would take off the mask and reveal who they are. This would be repeated with every staff member so that parents can show the video to their children to show that masks are not scary.
It will be very obvious to parents if you don’t do your research and have a definitive plan to set their minds at ease when it comes to sending their children back into your care. Let’s face it- many parents have the choice to keep their child home since their jobs are still from home. If you do your part in researching, planning, and clearly relaying the plan, parents will be more willing to send their little one to you. When it comes to their little ones, there’s no such thing as over-communication. So, make a plan, ask a colleague to look it over, and then put it into practice. None of us have ever done this before, but if we do it right, we can set the tone and set the parents at ease.