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Organizing schools to reopen during the COVID-19 crisis

Schools must possess certain capabilities in order to bring back students and teachers. In this McKinsey webinar, experts discuss the challenges that schools often face and how to manage them.

Schools around the world, shuttered by COVID-19, are making plans to reopen their doors to students, teachers, and staff. Some schools in a few countries have already begun operating again. Experience suggests that efforts to reopen schools should be organized, systematic, and led by a single dedicated team that can make clear and explicit decisions while being agile enough to adjust operations when new information comes in. In this McKinsey webinar, experts discuss the capabilities that schools and school systems need in order to reopen safely. These capabilities include the following.

  • Data. Decision making depends on mechanisms for complete and systematic collection, monitoring, processing, and analysis of data. School health and safety measures, for example, must be based on the latest data.
  • Communication. In a crisis, communication cannot be too frequent. It also must be two-way, targeted to the various stakeholders, and via multiple channels. All involved need access to the same information, which must be clear, frank, and complete.
  • Coordination.The alignment of all parties with health and safety recommendations requires coordination across a school system’s organizational levels and various segments of society with the public-health department, individual health providers, and the media.
  • Support functions.To ensure health and safety while keeping the school running, the operations, technology, and finance and budgeting functions must adapt to new ways. Training topics include health and safety measures, remote learning tools, and the mental-health consequences of the crisis.
  • Infrastructure. Possible roles for governments, regional authorities, telecom providers, and funding organizations must be determined.

For more on organizing schools to reopen during the COVID-19 crisis, please read “Safely back to school after coronavirus closures” and “School-system priorities in the age of coronavirus.”

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