Hospitals, hotels, restaurants and retail establishments worldwide have adopted the use of masks, disinfectant, and social distancing. Soon, schools will follow suit, implementing similar protective measures as K-12 students and staff return for the 2020—21 academic year. But as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) suggests, there’s more that schools can do to keep everyone safe while maintaining some sense of normalcy.
One of the CDC’s top recommendations to school administrators is enhancing campus communications systems. It’s a step that makes a lot of sense, as students, staff, parents and entire communities rely on quick, reliable dissemination of information to successfully adapt to new and everchanging guidelines, policies and procedures.
Here are five ways audible and visual messaging systems can be used to ensure a safer and more organized reopening in the fall.
1. Broadcast Routine Reminders
For example, automated audible announcements can remind students to practice safe distancing and to wash their hands. School administrators can play these pre-recorded reminders at scheduled times of the day and throughout the entire school or in certain high-use “zones” like the lunchroom, hallways, and gymnasium.
2. Issue New Safety Alerts
When necessary, administrators can modify routine announcements and issue alerts on the fly. Alerts can advise students to exit the school through a different door or to stay off certain playground equipment.
Moreover, schools can react quickly to new federal, state, and local COVID-19 mandates by adding new alerts, announcements, and messages to the system.
3. Indicate One-Way Hallways and Designated Seating
Routine reminders and instant alerts are important to maintain order and safety post-pandemic, but per the CDC, proper communications should also help guide students to and from busses and building entrances, between classrooms, and to specific desks and workstations to ensure adequate social distancing.
IP endpoints can communicate these instructions in a manner that’s universally understood by the entire student body.
Children with hearing impairments or who are unable to read, for example, can identify an illuminated green light on IP endpoints as “go,” and refer to the visual guides along newly designated one-way hallways and sidewalks.
Scrolling text, arrows, and flashers can be used as additional visual cues to ensure comprehension and compliance.
4. Notify Classrooms of Staggered Recess, Lunch and Departure Times
Other audible and visual alerts can notify students and teachers when their classrooms have been cleared for lunch and recess, and lead parents and bus drivers through drop-off and pick-up procedures.
IP endpoints can indicate safe distances to sit apart during classroom instruction, assemblies, and after-school events, and administrators can broadcast school bells through IP endpoints by grade and classroom to limit the number of people in the hallways.
5. Extend Communications to Supplementary Classrooms
Smaller classroom sizes promote social distancing, and for some districts, this requires the addition of temporary outbuildings. Advanced IP-based communications systems or temporary audio systems extend easily to these supplemental classrooms for campus-wide coverage of audible and visual messaging.
Easy to set up and tear down, temporary audio (also known as temporary PA) systems are rugged enough to be quickly moved or stowed away when not in use.
Coping with the Situation
Communications systems have always been a vital part of K-12 school operations. They’ve become even more critical post-COVID-19 as administrators deal with unprecedented challenges and develop completely new roadmaps for the upcoming school year.
Easy to integrate with existing communications platforms, flexible, and customizable, they help administrators, staff, and students adapt to COVID-19 safety guidelines and get back to teaching in a traditional classroom and campus-wide learning environment.
This post premiered on our sister site, Campus Safety.