Summer break is ending soon, and it’s time to go over your checklist in preparation for the new school year. As you do so, you may want to take a good look at your school district’s organizational chart and review how it works with your crisis plan. Since a school district’s top priority is education, administrators often prioritize students’ needs and leave organizational duties for another day. Although this practice is entirely understandable, it can negatively impact organizational preparedness, which, in turn, will diminish a district’s ability to provide a safe, quality education for its students.
Remember that organizational charts and crisis plans are critical to a district’s ability to act calmly, quickly, and efficiently during an unforeseen moment. The following helpful questions can get you started on assuring that you are always ready for a crisis.
Is your organizational chart up to date?
The new year often brings new staff. During the excitement of onboarding new additions to your team, it's easy to forget to add them to the organizational chart. As part of your new administrators' onboarding, though, be sure to include them in your organizational chart and provide them training on the district's crisis communications plan. This vital step will ensure that any new leaders on your team are prepared to tackle unforeseen events expeditiously and correctly.
Does your organizational chart read clearly?
In a crisis, the chain of command is critical. Be sure to fill in any gaps in the chain due to staffing changes over the summer break. When making a change, ask yourself if it affects your crisis plan. If it does, review your plan and make sure to brief your staff on the update. Assuring an easy-to-read and accessible chain of command and crisis plan for all administration is key to approaching matters strategically.
Are all communications pathways operational and accessible?
Many school districts started using new communications systems to get important information to parents remotely during the pandemic. Platforms like ParentSquare have now become a staple and will be used well into post-pandemic life. If your district has purchased a new communications platform, be sure to incorporate it into your crisis communications plan. Decide in advance how to include these tools and at what stage to use them during a crisis. And don't forget to make sure that all responsible team members have the appropriate access to these platforms.
The worst time to find out that your crisis plan is out of date is during a crisis. The last 18 months have shown us just how quickly policies and situations can change. Be proactive now by taking the time to update these organizational documents. In doing so, your district will be able to maintain public trust even as your community navigates unforeseen and often unprecedented waters.
Are you interested in a more comprehensive communications audit? Reach out to see how Presidio can help!
Samantha Marquez is a community relations and engagement specialist with over seven years of experience in legislative affairs and targeted policy messaging on the local and state level. Before coming to Presidio, Samantha served as the District Director to the Majority Leader of the California State Assembly, where she served as a liaison between local public agencies and the state government. In the Assembly, Samantha was the Majority Leader’s principal aide for K-12 education and transportation.