Armanino Checklist

Crisis Planning Checklist for Private Education Facilities

by Jenn McCabe
March 23, 2020

Given the recent outbreak of coronavirus (COVID-19), educational organizations should review, update and test their business continuity and disaster recovery plans. In this type of crisis, your school may experience:

  • Absenteeism-A pandemic could affect as many as 40% of the workforce during periods of peak illness. Staff & Employees could be absent because they are sick, are afraid to come to work, are caring for sick family members, or need to stay home with children because schools or day care centers are closed.
  • Changes in Student Attendance –Schools may experience a drop in student attendance due to illness, or some students may select to disenroll for a period of time based on health exposure concerns.
  • Changes in patterns of commerce-During a pandemic, consumer demand for items/services related to infection control is likely to increase dramatically, while consumer interest in other goods/services may decline.
  • Interrupted supply/delivery-Shipments of items from those geographic areas severely affected by the pandemic may be delayed or cancelled.

This checklist can help you plan for and minimize potential disruption to your employees, students, and operations.

These are some key steps you can take to help ensure adequate preparation and continuity of operations.

  • Educate and train employees in proper hand hygiene, cough etiquette and social distancing techniques. (For more details visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website.)
  • Consider changing term dates to make sure educational goals are accomplished in the long run. If the school has to shut down for a short period, extra days may be added to the end of the term to meet instruction time requirements. Many schools are planning to shift terms and work without a break for summer, or between terms.
  • Develop campus practice and engineering controls that could provide additional protection to your employees and students, including ventilation, and the proper selection, use and disposal of personal protective equipment.
  • Test and secure remote education planning/practices; determine how they will be tested and executed
  • Create a cross-functional response team. This will help you understand all the resources available and identify multiple/better approaches to problems, so you can respond more quickly as issues arise.
  • Identify your key personnel and cross-train employees to perform essential roles in the case of severe staffing shortages.
  • Create a consistent HR strategy for your employee absences.
  • Plan how to communicate and coordinate with employees, students and key vendors/suppliers.
    • Staff: next steps/expected timing, employment relationship, safety, job expectations, etc.
    • Vendors/suppliers: next steps/expected timing, request for patience
    • Students: next steps/expected timing/assurances that there is leadership and planning in place
  • Establish clear guidelines as to if/when it is time to close the school, and what needs to be confirmed before it can re-open. Keep in mind, schools are not homogenous: parents, students, instructors, and others onsite for events, etc. create a heightened risk of exposure.
  • Ensure the availability of essential technology and supplies.
    • Work with IT to support continued communications (e.g., email, remote access, conference calls, webinars, etc.).
    • Identify supply needs for periods of 2-5 weeks.
    • Stockpile infection control supplies, including handwashing products, tissues, and materials to produce educational materials on infection control (paper, printer ink, toner).
  • Consider the essential resources and activities (payroll processing, IT support, security, etc.) needed to keep your school operating.
  • Consider facility maintenance, including:
    • Building security
    • System security
    • Facility management and cleaning
    • Food spoilage (If you are shutting down, don’t leave food behind.)
  • Revenue: understand negative impacts on your revenue and consider ways to mitigate them. (For example, schools could see impact on revenue such as tuition, state/grant funding and bookstore sales, and may want to consider extending the school year or cancelling breaks.)
  • Expenses: understand expense control, consider vendor negotiations to extend greater credit, defer payments, or obtain discounts —generally ask for patience.
  • Other Considerations:
    • Communications for schools may include contacting a government authority and notifying the city or county.
    • Rumor control may be an issue with the student population, especially on social media.
    • Schools may need to establish a quarantine area for anyone exhibiting symptoms as they wait to go home.
    • Someone might need to be in charge of school records and might need to get them off site in a business continuation situation.
    • Plan for school cafeteria closure and perishable food distribution/disposal.
    • Counseling services may be considered for the student body population.

Remember that you don’t have to do it all yourself. Armanino’s experts are here to help.

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Jenn McCabe - Partner, Outsource HR - El Segundo CA | Armanino
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