Picture of a megaphone

 

Communications

What communication can we send to stakeholders to keep them informed?

WHY

More than ever, LEAs are called to communicate well with stakeholders. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves and changes the way LEAs must operate, school systems need their leaders to communicate well and frequently so that stakeholders understand the reasons for the many decisions that will be made. The 2020-2021 school year will require difficult decisions and trade-offs; providing clear, timely information to staff, families, and community stakeholders can ensure they remain partners throughout the school year.

 

HOW

  • Make Students, Staff, and Families Partners in Decision-making: Students, staff, and families have important feedback to share about their remote learning experiences in spring 2020 and their needs going forward. To be true partners, they need the opportunity to share that feedback, offer input on critical decisions, and learn how their feedback was used in making decisions. Consider spending time ensuring two-way communication is in place between LEAs and stakeholders. 

  • Have Pre-written Letters Ready: To be nimbler in responding to changing circumstances, have letters that are ready to use that you can use. (See samples below.)

Considerations for Staff

  • Communicate Plans and Protocols to Staff: Train and communicate with staff and representatives about the plan. Communicate all protocols to staff to ensure they are up to date on the latest policies and procedures. 

Considerations for Students and Families 

  • Share Districtwide Protocols: Consider sharing information on districtwide plans and protocols with families in advance of key dates to ensure a wider reach. 
  • Ensure Access to the Information: Consider using multiple modalities, languages, and formats to reach caregivers and community members in their native languages. In addition to your website, consider including phone, text, social media, or in-person communication at pick-ups.
  • Post Helpful Signage: Consider posting signage at each public entrance of each site to inform all students, staff and visitors that they should: 
    • Avoid entering or using the facility if they have COVID-19 symptoms; 
    • Maintain a minimum 6-foot distance from one another; and
    • Wear face coverings, as appropriate.
  • Maintain Effective Communication Systems. Maintain communication systems that allow staff and families to self-report symptoms and receive prompt notifications of exposures and closures, while maintaining confidentiality, as required by the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) and state law related to privacy of educational records. Additional guidance on student privacy can be found here
  • Test Emergency Communication Systems: Consider testing existing communication channels and methods to ensure your LEA is able to reach staff quickly in case of an emergency. 

RESOURCES

In times of great uncertainty and ambiguity, clear and ongoing communication with stakeholders will help support authentic and collaborative family and educator partnerships, strengthen family engagement in children’s learning, and reduce stress and confusion. 

 

Mandated Communication

LEAs are mandated to communicate under the following circumstances:

 

  • When COVID-19 Cases Occur on a Campus Where Instruction Is Taking Place:
      • Inform the Local Health Department (LHD) of a confirmed case.
      • Coordinate with the LDH to notify persons with potential exposure if the case was present in school while infectious. 
      • Inform Cal/OSHA of employee serious illness, hospitalization, or death. 
  • Every Two Weeks to Report on the Status of the Instructional Program: 
      • Beginning January 25, 2021, every LEA and private school in California must notify the California Department of Public Health as to how it is serving students. Section 16 of Assembly Bill 130 (AB 130) approved July 2021, identified the data to be collected, including student enrollment by school site, and district, number of staff working on site, the number of students opting into independent study, and the types of additional student supports available. Reporting takes place every other Monday (or the Tuesday immediately following, if the Monday is a state holiday) through a web form provided by CDPH until this directive is modified or rescinded. 
      • The California Department of Public Health will provide this information to local health officers and, once the information is processed, will make this information publicly available on the Safe Schools For All Hub website.
      • Additional information about the survey, including frequently asked questions and training materials, can be found on the CCEE website

Optional Communication  

LEAs should consider as much additional two-way communication with families and stakeholders such as labor, parent, and community organizations as they think possible. To ensure access to the information, consider using multiple modalities, languages, and formats to reach caregivers and community members in their native languages. In addition to your website, consider including phone, text, social media, or in-person communication at pick-ups.

 

Having clear and helpful up-to-date information on your LEA’s website will go a long way to to inform your community and reduce confusion. Below are some considerations for your LEA’s website. 


  • Share District-wide Protocols: Consider sharing information on districtwide plans and protocols with families in advance of key dates to ensure a wider reach. 
  • Individual School-Site Status: Consider sharing with your community the status of individual school(s), along with directions for parents, families, and caregivers on how to find more information.
  • Ensure Access to the Information: Consider using multiple modalities, languages, and formats to reach caregivers and community members in their native languages. In addition to your website, consider including phone, text, social media, or in-person communication at pick-ups. 

School systems are complex environments with multiple stakeholders and demands. Leading K-12 schools requires deep relationships and strong communication. Actively seeking and acting on stakeholder input is more important than ever. 


RESOURCES: 

For more information about how this tool was created and answers to other questions, see the FAQ section.  

The Health & Safety Guidebook for California LEAs
The Health & Safety Guidebook for California LEAs was developed in collaboration with the
California State Board of Education, the California Department of Public Health, and other technical assistance partners.