How Technology Helps With the Top 6 Pandemic Recovery Roadblocks

 

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Introduction

Many schools and communities across the country have had to face unprecedented challenges for responding to and recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Each community has had to deal with obstacles that are unique to their circumstances, but two major factors that virtually every school has had to deal with are the challenge of operating at a distance and the speed with which the pandemic caused significant disruptions, unfortunately catching many schools off guard. As if it wouldn’t be hard enough to hold some semblance of normal school operations at a distance, the fact that few schools had any time to prepare, let alone plan, for the pandemic response has made the process challenging across the board.

As schools across the country are looking at adjusting their plans and adapting to the situation on the fly, many school districts are looking to technology to help them through the recovery and become better prepared for future events.

While each school district, business, and community will face unique challenges based on their location and the needs of their stakeholders, there are several general roadblocks that will need to be addressed for any organization to have an efficient and effective recovery toward more standard operations. We have compiled a list of the Top 6 Pandemic Recovery Roadblocks and included information about how technology can help schools and districts experience a comprehensive recovery and better prepare for the future.

We hope you enjoy learning how technology can address each of these pandemic recovery roadblocks:

Logistics Management

One of the first obstacles that schools and will have to work through is the ability to manage the logistics of re-opening facilities, returning to school, and establishing a new standard for staff and students in schools. For that to occur, schools and organizations will need to be able to keep track of all their safety and education resources and coordinate the disbursement, use, and maintenance of those resources.

For example, many school districts all over the country have distributed district-owned devices to students to facilitate e-distance learning. For schools to be able to close out the current school year and re-open again, those devices will need to be collected, disinfected, checked for operational status, and put back into use – be it in schools or to continue distance learning as needed. To efficiently achieve this, school leaders will need a way to keep track of where all their resources are across multiple grade levels and buildings. And that's just one example, schools and organizations will also have a plethora of safety equipment, learning resources, and emergency supplies to assess and allocated based on the everchanging needs of the schools within the district.

A digital safety platform can simplify logistics management for safety by giving safety leaders a unified place to keep track of resources, assess the needs of teams and locations within the organization, and communicate the re-allocation of resources as needed.

It's easier to know the specific needs of your schools and swiftly respond to those needs when you can see the status of your resources for all your schools on a central dashboard. Instead of each school being an island focused on their own logistics, technology allows school districts to coordinate within the district to share and support resources as needed to ensure resources, devices, and vital equipment is distributed as needed across the district.

Complex Collaboration

Most people are aware of the sheer amount of work that will be required to reopen schools, set appropriate cleanliness and safety standards, and create trusted learning environments; however, many people aren’t so sure how to go about this process, where to start, who should do what, or how to keep track of the progress.

Re-opening schools and putting plans in place to ensure the safety of staff and students moving forward is going to require many different roles and teams at different locations to collaborate on a myriad of different tasks. These tasks can range from simple safety checks to multi-faceted procedures. All aspects of school life have been altered by the pandemic, and getting all those aspects, from building maintenance to lesson plans, will take a coordinated effort.

For example, a given school district could have a team working on a multitude of sanitization aspects across numerous locations, while another team is coordinating the transportation protocols for returning to school, and so on. School safety leaders could also find themselves on multiple teams with different responsibilities to achieve. Letting each staff member involved in the recovery effort know exactly what their next steps are while keeping track of the process as it unfolds will require a system and tools that can simplify complex collaboration.

Using technology to solve your complex collaboration needs is the most effective response. Instead of relying on a handful of 1:1 communication methods or less efficient group texts or emails to keep track of an ongoing, and possibly continually changing, to-do list will create extreme challenges for efficiency and effective communication throughout the process.

A digital safety platform can allow school districts to utilize role-based safety checklists that are monitored in real-time by safety leaders who can coordinate support when needed or escalate issues to another party if required.

Role-based digital checklists not only allow for the immediate recording and transfer of when tasks are completed or issues are experienced, it also ensures that your people only focus on what they need to be doing for their safety role without getting lost in the maze of pending tasks and responsibilities that don’t directly pertain to them. Safety leaders can get the ten-thousand-foot view of progress while also maintaining the ability to focus on specific tasks or teams that need assistance.

Pandemic recovery is going to be complex. Having a system that not only keeps track of every step of the recovery process, but also makes that process easy to observe and steer will be a welcome advantage in the recovery process.

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Localized Data Gathering

Many schools are working through the pandemic as best as they can with very limited resources. Given the quick and unexpected impact of the pandemic, many of these districts were not able to get an effective response plan in place and have been building their response mid-flight. While this isn’t uncommon among school districts, it is problematic. As schools are struggling to recover and create a path towards re-opening, many are failing to capture the critical safety data that could help build a stronger defense from emergencies in the future.

With so many decisions and changes made on the fly, could you accurately account for the actions your district has taken in response to the pandemic? Do you have a clear picture of the measures taken and the results they yielded? How will you take the lessons learned from this experience and apply them to your existing safety protocols?

If you are struggling to answer any of the previous questions, you should consider how essential safety data is for assessing your safety successes and failures for building a better safety plan for tomorrow and so on.

Having the ability to track data during this hectic time might seem like a luxury that’s out of reach, but it doesn’t have to be. Having the data to see what your districts exact response was, what went well, and what did not work will be critical for building on your existing safety protocols and preparing for future safety challenges like the pandemic.

A digital safety platform can simplify logistics management for safety by giving safety leaders a unified place to keep track of resources, assess the needs of teams and locations within the organization, and communicate the re-allocation of resources as needed.

Tracking data is incredibly valuable for measuring the success of your district’s response, but safety technology can go even further by allowing your district to assist the community response with relevant safety data. Since schools are often a critical hub of the community, they are in a unique place to help during a pandemic crisis, which affects the entire community.

Having a digital safety platform allows school districts to not only gauge how staff and parents/students are recovering, but also the ability to poll and gather safety data moving forward to see how initiatives are working or failing to meet the needs of the students and staff.

Using technology to track data and make data-driven improvements can not only help schools continually analyze and improve their response efforts, it can benefit their community as well by providing a critical resource for safety data.

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Multi-Faceted Communication

If the pandemic has reinforced anything, it is how much we may have taken clear communication for granted. It’s easy to rely on the old methods of communication when you’re used to your regular routine and are likely to see your co-workers every day. With the pandemic quickly closing down schools, many districts have been scrambling to maintain an effective line of communication with staff and various teams across the district.

There are many questions swirling around school staff as school employees of all different roles wonder about the safety and cleanliness of the schools as well as what their responsibilities are for instruction and recovery. Schools not only need a dedicated line of safety communication to ensure that all stakeholders can share information and receive critical updates, they also need that communication channel to be sophisticated enough to reach the right people with the right information, so everyone can stay in the loop while receiving the information that is relevant to their roles and responsibilities.

A digital safety platform allows schools to utilize a hierarchy of communication. Instead of being limited to awkward group messages or a flood of one-to-one communications, safety technology lets you reach the right person or groups with the exact information they need.

During crisis recovery, a school safety team may need to broadcast information to all stakeholders at once, private message a few key safety team members, and communicate amongst different groups at different locations. A digital safety platform can make that kind of multi-faceted communication a streamlined process, and your communication capabilities are strengthened by the ability to easily share not just written text, but also images, videos, and files to ensure everyone can share their critical information.

Coordinating with First Responders & Health Organizations

Speaking of communication, one of the critical aspects of responding to and recovering from any emergency is being able to escalate emergencies to the proper authorities and work together to coordinate a swift and effective response. It’s always been important for schools to stay connected with first responders, but as communities recover from the pandemic and prepare for the future, it will be imperative that schools maintain a direct and active connection to local law enforcement, fire department, paramedics, and health organizations.

Some critical situations, pandemic-related or otherwise, require escalating to first responders or medical professionals. An effective emergency escalation should allow first responders to immediately connect with school district officials to communicate with staff members in the affected building/campus to provide additional insights about the situation. Together, the members of both organizations can communicate and share safety information to rapidly resolve the situation.

By creating a clear connection with first responders and medical professionals, school districts can instantly inform the appropriate agency of a medical or safety threat, provide continual real-time communication and situational awareness between schools in distress and the professionals who can assist them, and create a stronger connection between local schools and local emergency response agencies to improve rapid response, as well as crisis prevention measures.

A digital safety platform allows schools to connect with first responders and medical professionals to provide situational awareness.

It’s critically important to notify responders about an emergency or critical safety information as quickly as possible, but the follow-up is just as important as well.

A digital safety platform not only makes it possible to ping first responders and medical professionals when a crisis occurs or critical information is received, it also connects them in communication to ensure responders stay aware of any changes or developments in the situation. By being connected through a unified safety communication group, school staff can send text messages, images, videos, or files directly to responding officers and medical agencies to give them a first-hand account of the situation. Responders can also get access to building maps and evacuation maps for the school in distress.

A digital safety platform also allows first responders and medical professionals to broadcast potential emergencies and critical updates to schools. Safety technology can be leveraged to create a two-way line of safety information sharing that helps both school staff and first responders stay aware of safety risks, and it gives them more time to react to any emergency that may occur.

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Improving Protocols & Planning for the Future

Few schools can say they were fully prepared for the pandemic and the resulting impact it has had on our communities. Not only has COVID-19 been more severe than similar virus-related emergencies experienced over recent years, the quick, preventative actions of closing schools and social distancing have made it even harder to cobble together plans on the fly. Most school districts are learning from this experience and fully intend to take their recent experiences and build a better plan to be better prepared for the next pandemic or extended crisis.

The challenge is that as many plans were created and adjusted on the go, it will be difficult for schools to look back at the specific actions they have taken throughout their response timeline. Even more difficult will be evaluating the specific steps taken along the way. How effective was each tactic or strategy for addressing a specific pandemic related issue? What measures failed to meet the district’s recovery needs? And how can you be sure?

When school districts use this crisis to strengthen their safety plans and protocols moving forward, they will want more than a gut feeling to decide what worked well and what did not. To effectively assess and analyze the successes and failures of recovery, districts will need to be able to track their response timeline and use data to drive their improvements.

This is where safety technology comes in. A digital safety platform lets districts keep a record of the actions taken, to-do lists completed, safety communication exchanged, user feedback acquired, and all the other steps that were taken to get through the recovery and establish a new normal.

A digital safety platform can also present all the safety information in an easy-to-understand format, allowing district safety leaders to see the big safety picture for their district and use that information to make adjustments as needed.

Recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic will not be the end of pandemic safety for schools. As many safety and school leaders have predicted, this pandemic will shape how schools operate moving forward, in ways that are still not fully understood. Schools will need to be better prepared for another pandemic or extended crisis, and technology can assist that process by keeping a clear record of response and supplying the data required to make proactive safety improvements.

In both good times and bad, schools have turned to technology to enhance effectiveness and create the ideal learning environment. As schools continue to face uncertain challenges through pandemic recovery, technology can make the process more manageable by addressing the sticking points that hold districts back. Consider utilizing a safety technology like a digital safety platform to help your schools recover and establish a new normal.

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What's Next?

See how CrisisGo is helping schools and organizations leverage safety technology to improve pandemic recovery by checking out these additional resources.

See CrisisGo's Safety CheckIn in Action

See how having a reliable, non-intrusive safety communication platform allows you to quickly check the status of your stakeholders to make data-driven decisions.