Coronavirus (COVID-19)

COVID-19 Resources
COVID-19 Resources

We are here for private-independent schools as you navigate the unknown impact of COVID-19.

ISM has weathered every storm beside private schools for nearly 50 years. While we don't know what's on the other side of this one, we know students need and deserve the best educational experience possible. We're here to ensure private school leaders can offer just that, despite the world's uncertainty.

Wishing the best for you, your loved ones, and your community,

Roxanne S. Higgins
ISM President and Senior Executive Consultant

 

Recommendations & Resources for:

School Heads and Trustees | Business Officers | Development Leaders | Enrollment Management and Marketing | Communications Leaders | Academic Leaders | International Program Leaders | Q&A Webinars For All School Leaders | FAQs


Notices From ISM

Events | Books | International Student Accident and Sickness


Questions? Contact us via our form.

CONTACT US

 

COVID-19 Recommendations & Resources

All of the information presented should be not construed as legal advice.
We strongly recommend that schools review all legal matters with legal counsel in your state.

School Heads and Trustees

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The Source Article

COVID-19: Tuition Refunds and Discounts

COVID-19 has disrupted the traditional school year and creates numerous questions concerning tuition payments. ISM makes the following recommendations concerning tuition for the 2019–2020 year.

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The Source Article

Private Schools and the CARES Stimulus Package: What You Need to Know

We delve into what the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) means for independent schools.

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The Source Article

How the Board and School Head Should Respond to COVID-19

As schools face the continued implications of the Coronavirus, there are some operational elements for the Board and School Head to consider.

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The Source Article

Graduation and Other Year-End Events: How to Plan Amid COVID-19

COVID-19 has certainly changed how the 2019–2020 school year looks. ISM offers the following advice as you consider your year-end events and traditions.

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The Source Article

School Spotlight: Sanford School 

See how Sanford School is continuing to foster community while campus is closed due to COVID-19. We think you may find some inspiration for your strategies and tactics.

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The Source Article

How Private Schools Can Prove ROI to Families

It's never been more important to prove your school's value. We recommend using the following steps to prove your educational ROI to families.

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    Business Officers

    The Source Article

    Private Schools and the CARES Stimulus Package: What You Need to Know (Part 2)

    We recently hosted a Q&A on the CARES stimulus package and what it means for private schools. Today we're sharing the highlights. 

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    The Source Article

    Six Recommendations for Independent School Business Officers During the COVID-19 Pandemic

    Throughout this radical change, trust, excellent leadership, and proactive communication from the Business Office will be required to demonstrate stability. 

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    IDEAS & PERSPECTIVES

    Review Your School’s Employee Infectious Disease Policy

    Your school should have an Infectious Disease Policy that is adapted to your school’s particular circumstances and culture. Your school’s legal counsel should then ensure that the policy meets federal and state requirements.

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    IDEAS & PERSPECTIVES

    Does Your Crisis Plan Really Protect Your Students (and School)?

    Most crisis and safety experts warn against a “cookie-cutter” crisis plan or an approach. Your crisis plan should be tailored for your school, and should address the three phases of a crisis: Prevention/Safety, Response, and Recover.

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      Development Leaders

      The Source Article

      Five Tips for Donor Stewardship During COVID-19

      During this rapidly unfolding crisis, it's critical that development staff remain calm and focused on what development professionals and volunteers do best: building and sustaining relationships with donors and prospects.

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      Webinar

      Live “Ask the Consultants” for Development Professionals

      Two ISM Advancement Academy leaders who currently work in private schools answered questions about what you should do now about fundraising initiatives.

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      The Source Article

      Seven Actions You Can Take Now for Annual Giving

      We share how to find new ways to be present for your school community, build and maintain critical personal relationships, and, ultimately, meet your revenue goals for the current year.

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      The Source Article

      How Development Offices Should Respond to COVID-19

      Worries about COVID-19, coupled with the downturn of the markets, have raised many fundraising questions. Use these guidelines to help your Development Office respond appropriately.

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        Enrollment Management and Marketing Communications Leaders

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        The Source Article

        Marketing Strategies to Use During the COVID-19 Pandemic

        There are many questions about how to market your school amid the COVID-19 pandemic. We’ve compiled a list of suggestions for schools to consider.

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        The Source Article

        How to Manage Re-Enrollment in the Midst of COVID-19

        Whether you are optimistic or concerned about your school’s current retention picture, use these tips to improve your re-enrollment outlook for the 2020–21 school year.

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        WEBINAR

        Tactical Strategies For Marketing During a Crisis

        We share tactical strategies your school can use to market during COVID-19, including specific recommendations on messaging and marketing channels.

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        The Source Article

        Five Tips for Setting Up a Virtual Admission Office

        Use these five tips to set up a virtual Admission Office that will enable you to move prospective families through the admission funnel in a personalized, mission-focused way.

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        Facebook event

        Ideas and Tools to Leverage for Virtual Admissions Events

        Watch our past Facebook Live event with Penny Abrahams where we discussed ideas and tools you can leverage for virtual admissions events.

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        The Source Article

        How Admission and Marketing Leaders Should Respond to COVID-19

        Use the following strategies to communicate effectively with your families and keep your bonds strong during the COVID-19 pandemic.

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        Ideas & Perspectives

        The Whys and Hows of Implementing a Crisis Communication Plan

        Your school should have a Crisis Communication Plan that defines the people, systems, and tools you use to communicate internally and externally during and after a crisis.

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          Academic Leaders

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          The Source Article

          Five Elements of Successful Remote Meetings

          Holding remote meetings requires careful planning to ensure you use the time wisely and action steps are planned and taken. We recommend using the following tactics to ensure your meetings are communicative and efficient.

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          The Source Article

          How Academic Leaders Should Respond to COVID-19

          The impact COVID-19 can have on schools and children is significant. There are three important areas for schools to consider: Nonpharmaceutical interventions (NPIs), communication, and continuity of your school’s mission.

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          Downloadable Resource

          ISM Remote Schedule Sample

          Consider the following remote learning schedule for Middle and Upper School for 8 Carrier Designs. 

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          Downloadable Resource

          ISM Remote Schedule Sample

          Consider the following remote learning schedule for Middle and Upper School for 7 Carrier Designs.

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          Downloadable Resource

          ISM Remote Schedule Sample

          Consider the following remote learning schedule for Lower School.

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            International Program Leaders

            The Source Article

            How International Student Managers Should Respond to COVID-19

            International students remaining in the United States over scheduled school breaks, due to imposed travel restrictions as well as the parents’ concerns for their safety, creates new responsibilities.

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            WEBINAR

            International Programs: How Schools Should Prepare for International Students Remaining in the United States

            Jacqui Yamada, International Programs Consultant, provided seven must-do action steps to take in response to COVID-19.

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              Q&A Webinars for All School Leaders

               

              WEBINAR

              Ask the Consultants Q&A Session #2

              Five ISM Consultants (Terry Moore, Martin Kelly, Jacqui Yamada, Andrew Taylor, and Michael Christopher) shared insights answered questions to COVID-19.

              DOWNLOAD NOTES
               

              WEBINAR

              Ask the Consultants Q&A Session #1

              Four ISM Consultants (Terry Moore, Penny Abrahams, Bryan Smyth, and Michael Christopher) shared their insights and answered questions to COVID-19.

              DOWNLOAD NOTES

               

              FAQs

              The decision concerning ongoing compensation during this emergency is the school’s prerogative. ISM’s recommendation is that schools do everything in their power to help all their faculty/staff through this crisis, keeping their normal pay in place, including part-time, non-instructional staff. Our hope is that schools will be as generous as possible to their employees.

               

              ISM recommends that only essential personnel (and a small group at that) be allowed to access campus once the decision to close is made. This is also what we are seeing many private-independent schools do.

              It becomes a slippery slope if you allow individual faculty members or an admissions tour.

              In the case of an admissions tour, allow the Admissions Director (as essential personnel) to give a Facebook live or Skype tour of facilities, and arrange a video conversation with the family and division head, etc., to answer any questions.

              For library books, consider directing families to an app like Libby (https://www.overdrive.com/apps/libby/), which allows for digital checkouts (audio, Kindle, etc.) from your local libraries for free. They have many great children's books available online.

               

              Before communicating policies to families, review the language with your school’s attorney.

              Under the “standard of care”, schools have more flexibility about asking employers and families questions about travel or if they are in high-risk categories, as well as placing reasonable restrictions to protect those within your school community. Note that you must be careful not to single out individual families, but rather communicate your expectations and policies to all families.

              You may consider language such as:

              • Please notify us if someone in your household becomes exposed to (or contracts) the virus.
              • Before campus activities resume, we may ask each family to share their recent travel history. We reserve the right to require an extended period of distance learning for any student whose family members have traveled to places that are deeply impacted by the virus.

               

              The school should not feel obligated to refund prepaid tuition, nor should the school forgo collecting tuition throughout the remainder of the year as long as the school is proactively developing and implementing remote learning. While school buildings are closed, learning is not. If the school charges extra fees for services such as athletics, clubs, food, etc. those fees should be refunded. However, if your tuition is all-inclusive, refunding is not required nor recommended.

              If you have not already done so, review your enrollment contract and any tuition refund plan contract with your school’s attorney.

              It’s important to avoid using terminology like “school is closed,” which implies that academic operations have ceased. Instead, you could state that "buildings are closed” with all academic operations moved to distance/remote learning.

              In addition, make reference to “postponements” or “suspensions” of activities rather than “cancellations.” An example here includes the “postponement” of an athletic season vs. a cancellation. Of course, you will need to follow the guidance of any athletic league/division affiliations.

              If you are canceling field trips and/or overnight trips, refunds should be given if these trips are not already included in your tuition.

               

              In a growing number of states, the length of closure is being determined by local government officials. If your state has not given a mandate, we advise that you follow the advice of your local health officials and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).

               

              Consider how and when you are scheduling class or group “meetings” or instructional sessions For example, if you are scheduling sessions in the morning it is likely to be late afternoon to early evening which is still time to fit in connecting to classmates abroad. Simply do the math, look up the time zones of your students and take it into consideration. Not all course work or sessions presented will be convenient for all, make plans to offer recordings when possible, to be viewed at a later time. However, understand that if it is not considered and all lessons are presented at what turns out to be a ridiculous time for some students it will in fact greatly impact the student experience, possibly in a negative way for some. I have heard great feedback from schools connecting classmates as an unexpected benefit. Some of children’s fears and anxieties are put to rest as they connect virtually. They take this as proof that everyone is okay.

               

              Here are some of the adjustments we recommend:

              • Delay new solicitations to the annual fund until the initial transition to online learning has been completed and students and parents are comfortably settled in, probably around April 1.
              • Communicate with alumni, grandparents, parents of alumni, etc., about the adjustments that the school is making and give examples how the school continues to live out its mission.
              • Use video tools to meet with your leadership prospects. Update them on the school’s plans, reassure them that the school is doing all it can for your children and let them know you understand the current market situation may cause them to delay their gift.
              • Consider creative ways to solicit the remaining donors for your annual fund, for example, Giving Days, Virtual Events, video calls, online forums, etc. Continue to treat all your prospects with deep respect for their individual circumstances.

              Now 13 Airports and Ports of Entry conducting extended health and travel history screenings: U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) are working closely and coordinating efforts with the CDC (Centers for Disease Control) and CBP (Customs and Border Patrol) to employ an intra-agency approach to screening and clearing individuals for entry into the United States.

              Travel Advisory restrictions and the Trump Administration Proclamations essentially effecting many travelers, international students included, it will create the need for coordination with the airlines in re-routing passengers through the designated airports and ports of entry. Currently costs associated with re-routing travel will not be the responsibility of the passengers. The screening is performed to identify and stop potentially ill persons.

              The 13 designated airports:

              ATL – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport – Atlanta, Georgia

              BOS – Boston Logan International Airport – Boston, Massachusetts

              DFW – Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport – Dallas, Texas

              DTW – Detroit Metropolitan Airport – Detroit, Michigan

              EWR – Newark Liberty International Airport – Newark, New Jersey

              HLN – Daniel K. Inouye International Airport – Honolulu, Hawaii

              IAD – Washington -Dulles International Airport - Virginia

              JFK – John F. Kennedy International Airport – New York, New York

              LAX – Los Angeles International Airport – Los Angeles, California

              MIA – Miami International – Miami, Florida

              ORD – Chicago O’Hare International Airport – Chicago, Illinois

              SEA – Seattle- Tacoma International Airport – Seattle, Washington

              SFO – San Francisco International Airport – San Francisco, California

               

              Our best advice to you in this situation is to follow your contract in all cases and to do so with tremendous empathy for what your families are going through. While it may be tempting to make special offers or create new strategies to keep families, it's not in the school's best interest in the long run. If the school handles these situations with tact and grace, hopefully, some of these families will return to you once they regain employment. If nothing else, they will leave with a positive feeling about the school and that serves the school well in terms of word-of-mouth marketing.

               



              Notices From ISM

              Events

              ISM fully anticipates holding our upcoming events, including Summer Institute and Advancement Academy, successfully. That said, we're planning for every possibility.   

              In order to ensure the best experience, ISM will proactively engage with our attendees with needed updates to minimize any disruption to their experience.

              You are welcome to reserve your seat and lock in Early Bird Pricing for an upcoming Summer Institute workshop or Advancement Academy with a refundable $600 deposit. Once you’ve reserved your seat, please make sure your workshop is confirmed before making travel arrangements. Make your deposit by calling in to our workshops department at 302-656-4944 or emailing workshops@isminc.com.

              Should ISM cancel an event, we ensure a 100% money-back guarantee for all registrants—so you can buy with confidence. (Please see our cancellation policy.) 

               

              Books

              March 16, 2020: Due to COVID-19 and circumstances beyond our control, book shipments will be delayed from our home office. We apologize for the inconvenience. Thank you for your patience during this time.

               

              International Student Accident and Sickness

              This is a sensitive and stressful time for schools and students. For those schools with international programs, you might wonder how to protect your international students if they cannot return home.

              Should you need to house students longer than originally planned, even during school breaks, we have negotiated with Chubb to allow your International Student Accident & Health insurance to extend to students and schools in need. Hopefully this will not impact many of our schools. But if you need it, we’re here. Contact Tascha Gourley, International/Domestic Student Accident & Health Manager, at tascha@isminc.com, to discuss the process for extending your coverage.