Managing the Return to School: Communicating ‘The New Normal’

cleaning supplies at school   How are boarding schools coping with the pandemic and are they actually viable moving forward into the next academic year? It’s no surprise that some schools are losing the battle to survive financially and, at the same time, many pupils worldwide are facing a long wait to return to class. Overseas students who have returned home face the additional stress of making decisions about whether to return to their school or university next term, if their education is still, potentially, being delivered online. The implication is that some schools will close permanently unless they can maintain parental confidence and adapt to challenging circumstances. According to the Independent Schools Council (ISC), there are around 55,000 overseas pupils in ISC schools, of which almost 10,000 are Chinese, 5,000 are from Hong Kong and 2,500 from Russia. If these students fail to return, it will be economically disastrous. Some recent reports indicate that as many as 30 independent schools in the UK are preparing to close permanently and in Hong Kong currently at least 4 kindergartens and pre-schools have announced that they will cease operations this year as well as 8 fee-paying schools, with all 22 English Schools Foundations settings forgoing the annual increase in fees in an attempt to steady parents’ nerves. There is a growing consensus that all children need to be back in education, as long as this can be achieved safely for all concerned. Whilst on-line sessions provide some support, they are not a substitute for the skilled interactions a teacher provides in the classroom. Student well-being, mental health, welfare, and anxiety issues will need to be addressed as they learn to adapt to new routines.  These issues are arising from early years upwards and need to be a key component of re-opening objectives and provision. The latest American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) advice says children learn best when they are in school. However, physically returning to school requires schools to understand that although academic catch up is a priority, the social and emotional dimensions of learning will need careful management. WOI has extensive experience of working with schools internationally and  our team’s education associates  are dealing with the  current challenges on a daily basis, enabling us to support you with the most effective strategies in terms of:
  • Your school’s key messages about safety and processes
  • Re-opening practices that reflect a genuine understanding of the anxieties that all stakeholders may be experiencing
  • Effective use of your digital marketing and social media to instill confidence and reassurance
We are unique in the skills we offer in digital marketing, website advice, educational, and human resources expertise in the independent sector. In these testing times: choose a company that knows what works.   ADDITIONAL INFO Children’s well-being has been in decline since 2009 and this outbreak will undoubtedly create difficulties for those having to cope with widespread changes to their daily life. Currently one in eight children aged 5-19 have a diagnosable mental health condition. We are concerned that Covid-19 may result in heightened feelings of anxiety and worry and could exacerbate low mood and other mental health conditions.
  • 20% of adolescents may experience a mental health problem in any given year.1
  • 50% of mental health problems are established by age 14 and 75% by age 24.2 
  • 10% of children and young people (aged 5-16 years) have a clinically diagnosable mental problem3, yet 70% of children and adolescents who experience mental health problems have not had appropriate interventions at a sufficiently early age.4

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