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Strategies for Communicating COVID-19 Program Changes to Families

Jul 09, 2020    |   COVID-19 Resources & Information

The realities of the COVID-19 pandemic have required early learning professionals to completely reorganize their classrooms and program procedures. And, as more information becomes available, more changes will need to be made to accommodate new regulations and requirements. All of these changes will require flexibility and a lot of communication with parents to ensure that everyone is on the same page.

Because the past few months have been especially hard on families, it is our responsibility as educators to offer support, striving for as much consistency as possible.

Ask For Updates

The past few months have dramatically shifted the way that we live our lives. Young children, who require routines and predictability, have been affected in many ways by the changes they’ve experienced. While we welcome a return to old routines, many of our little ones have experienced big changes in their worlds and may need help adjusting. Children will likely need some extra love and support during the first few weeks as they transition back to school.

To help the children back on track educators should make sure that you have all of the latest information on how they’ve been doing, by asking parents: Does your child have any new likes or dislikes? What was particularly stressful about the past few months? What has changed? Anything else I should know? 

This can be done with an email check-in, a phone call, a short google survey form, or a quick in-person conversation (with social distancing guidelines). You will also want to create a designated way for parents to provide updates moving forward. As changes continue, it will be important that parents know how to get in touch with their child’s educators and caregivers.

Over-Communicate New Changes

With all of the uncertainty, parents are looking for something they can count on. Regular email, call, or text message updates will help parents stay in touch. Clear communication about new procedures will be important before programs re-open, and parents should have ample opportunity to contact program staff with questions. Be sure to also follow-up with extra reminders.

Because there will be a lot of updates, be sure to keep your messages brief and to-the-point to avoid overwhelming. You might even consider posting signs around the center so that parents see them when they arrive and are reminded of new changes.

Make Space for Differences of Opinion

Big changes often bring out big feelings. Many families will have opinions about COVID-19 and the best way to keep their children safe as they return to child care. Inevitably, there will be differences in opinion. This can be tricky to navigate as we try to find balance between what works for each individual child and what works for the group.

Even if you are not able to implement their ideas, allow parents to express their opinions. In order to build partnership, it is necessary to keep the door open for honest conversation and communication. Listen to and consider the different perspectives of parents, while also remembering that it is okay to stand your ground on the policies you have created. To keep the conversation moving forward, give parents gentle reminders that you and the team are doing your best to keep everyone safe and healthy.

Share Positive Updates

While there might be a lot of stress and uncertainty, there is also good news too! Children will be happy to see their friends and, after getting back into the swing of things, should enjoy being back in their routine. Make sure that you share these things with parents, along with all of your other communications. Parents will be happy to get some good news and will be glad to see their children enjoying themselves and playing again.

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