Covid-19: Communication Structures

 

Covid-19 COMMUNICATION STRUCTURES

3 November 2020: (Circular 0074/2020) Arrangements for schools to have in place appropriate contingency measures to ensure that schools are prepared to continue to support teaching and learning in the event of a partial or full closure of schools arising from Public Health advice

 

Consider your communication structures in light of the current context and the publication of Circular 0074/2020

 

  • What are the protocols within your school about communication with parents? What, when, with whom 

  • Need to consider the approach and time scale for examination students ? Should their work in the school be prioritised above other years? 

  • Does the school have a clear understanding of the types of communications it should be engaging with (Mass bulletin, Parent contact, Teaching staff, Students, Inter teaching groups such as subject groups or year groups etc..)

  • Consider that the method of communication is directly impacted by the type of communication involved and there are numerous methods available. 

  • Do communications go directly to parents or to students? If multiple communications are going to parents consider the benefits of doing this in a coherent and useful way for families

  • How frequently do you communicate and what impact does this have?

  • With above in mind consider the regularity of communications with parents - it is important to keep parents updated in these uncertain times. Keep reminding parents of the importance of their son/daughter engaging in the online learning space.

  • Consider the benefits of a communication schedule for the school rather than sporadic or individual messages which can cause confusion that is planned timetabled and well thought out using the various communication tools available

  • Consider the benefits of scheduling emails using a scheduler in your email system 

  • What mode of communication is being used and is it suited to the message? – email, website, twitter, letter, whatsapp,  post, facebook, text, telephone calls, online platforms, 

 

Communication Lines

  • Principal and Deputies
  • Principal, Deputies and Middle Leaders APs

  • Principal & Trust Body

  • Principal and Board of Management

  • Principal, All Staff

  • Subject Department Groups

  • Year Groups

  • Examination secretary

  • Capacity Building Clusters (Internal Tech Support)

  • Teachers and Students

  • P,DPs, Ancillary Staff

  • School and Parents

  • School and Community

 

School Community

  • Pupils and parents

  • Board of Management

  • Senior Management Team

  • Teaching Staff

  • Special Needs Assistants

  • Ancillary Staff

  • Other School Leaders

  • Department of Education and Skills

  • State Exam Commission 

 

There are key considerations here around building these internal lines of communication and the use of technologies to bring value to the quality of communications. There are multiple formats to be considered here 

  • Consider the context of the people with whom you are communicating 
  • To what extent are your communications of benefit to them?
  • To what extent have you provided a way of them communicating with you?

  • How can this be done discreetly rather than on public fora?

  • To what extent are there assumptions in communications about technology, access and inclusion? 

RESOURCE BANK

Click on the images and links below to find out more about the various platforms and their online features that can be used to help support communication structures. 

*Planning template reviewing current lines of communications: Internal Communication Lines.pdf

PDST Distance Learning Page

Department of Education Updates

HSE Advice & Updates

 

COVID-19 Information and advice for Tusla staff

National Educational Psychological Service (NEPS): Responding to critical incidents document

Continuity of support during the COVID-19 period of restrictions

 

 

  The following considerations are designed to prompt discussion & consideration at a whole school level
General Considerations

● Whatever child safeguarding procedures apply for face to face contact with children should apply with online communication.

● Schools should only use accurate sources of information.

● School’s communications to parents and pupils should be assessed in terms of their benefit to the recipients.

● Remember that communication should be two-way. Consider the most sustainable method for Parents/Children to communicate with school. (email, website, twitter, letter, post, facebook, text, telephone calls, online platforms)

● There is benefit in briefly recording the school’s decision making processes and actions during the current period

Communicating with staff

● What is the agreed approach of communication between the leadership team in the school?

● Is there an agreed method in which ALL staff can engage in communication?

● Is there an agreed timeframe for communications that is reasonable in taking family circumstances into account? (Timing of meetings, use of agreed online platform (Circular 74/2020) and shared documents to record whole school decisions)

● To what extent is the school’s communication system inclusive and mindful of individual teachers’ capacity? (Infrastructure, knowledge, tech experience)

● Can staff be supported with CPD for remote learning, where appropriate? https://www.pdst.ie/DistanceLearning

● Is the leadership team able to maintain this communication if a member of this team is not available?

● Has the Leadership Team an effective agreed structure for checking in with staff members to ensure they have the support they need in order to deliver remote learning in a Covid 19 context?

Communicating with Parents / Guardians

● Does the school have the facility to make contact with all parents/guardians in the school?

● Has the school established a sustainable method of communication with parents/guardians, especially the most vulnerable in line with circular 74/2020 and ‘Guidance on Remote Learning in a COVID-19 Context: September – December 2020’

● Is there a method for parents/guardians to contact the school/teachers that is reasonable, sustainable, accessible and two-way? Consider the impact on the wellbeing of all when agreeing cut-off times/school hours?

● How frequently does the school communicate and what impact does this have?

● Does the school have an agreed whole school approach to communication with parents? Depending on the school context, coordination of communications may need to be considered. In a small school context, this might be a small team, in larger settings this may be a designated team with an agreed schedule of communication

Communicating with Pupils

● Safeguarding considerations are paramount and in line with the school’s child protection policy.

● To what extent is the school’s communication system inclusive and mindful of individual pupils’ capacity?

● Has a whole school approach to remote learning been agreed as per circular 74/20? (www.pdst.ie/distancelearning may be useful here)

● Does the school have procedures in place to provide feedback on learning from pupils that are in line with Circular 74/2020?

Communicating with the Board of Management

● Does the school have regular contact with the Chairperson of the BoM ?

● Has the Chairperson of the Board of Management made contact with the school’s Patron?

● How has the Board of Management communicated with the Staff/School Community to affirm and reassure in relation to the continuity of learning?

● Are the Board of Management aware of new practices in the school?

● How are decisions and actions taken being documented?

● How is the Board of Management communicating with ancillary staff?

Communicating with External Agencies

● External agencies remain available to Principals and Chairpersons to advise and support during this time. Can the communication with external agencies, including the DES be maintained if any member of the leadership team is unavailable?

● The Department of Education information is being updated on a regular basis and can be found here