In many states, the coronavirus pandemic necessitated contingency plans allowing for a shift from in-person to remote activities. For some purposes, like most office jobs, the transition has been an adjustment, but doable and in some cases even preferable to commuting to a workplace. For example, at Microsoft, among other companies, productivity is up.
But for other purposes, like educating students, the dozens of conversations our teams have had with education clients (both K-12 schools and colleges) across the country indicate the move to remote learning has been much more challenging.
Every institution is unique, of course, but some themes emerged from our discussions, and we believe by sharing these commonalities we can start a conversation that will end with solutions. By working together, we believe schools and colleges can emerge from this crisis stronger and smarter. We’ll dive into these topics and more during our upcoming webinar on May 20th (register here), hosted by MGT’s own Senior Vice President of our Education Solutions Practice, Mike Raisor. He will talk with a panel of education leaders to answer many of these pressing questions encircling how do we “Get Back to School” in the Fall (successfully and efficiently).
Thin — or No — Contingency Plans
The pandemic — and the abruptness with which some institutions were required to transition to remote learning — revealed a lack of contingency plans. In some school districts, school secretaries and bookkeepers typically did not have laptops to take home and therefore did not have access to the financial system. In another situation, a bus driver who was delivering meals passed away from COVID-19, and that has caused difficulty in getting employees to work — there was no backup plan.
One silver lining of this pandemic could be educational organizations start developing more comprehensive contingency plans. Read what Mike Raisor had to say about this in more detail as he discussed his views on this topic in District Administration Magazine.
Despite the federal government approving stimulus packages that stretch into the billions of dollars, educational institutions still have widespread financial concerns. Some colleges and universities provided partial refunds of room and board fees and even parking fees since students only utilized services for approximately half of the spring semester. Other institutions have given essential workers a 25 percent raise while also paying all of their other staff, which is challenging with less revenue coming in. Hiring is frozen at all types of schools and colleges, and layoffs loom at many.
Disruption Now, Uncertainty Ahead
At some colleges and universities, the pandemic interrupted science lab work and research projects, meaning they will need to be redone or canceled outright. The tenure track for faculty has been delayed one and sometimes two years. K-12 teachers are stretched even thinner than usual as many of them try to look after their own children while preparing and delivering lessons to students, many of whom oftentimes do not show up (due to technology or other limitations). And some school staff, including teachers, are not accustomed to relying so heavily on technology to do their jobs. More than one educator told us that “everything is taking twice as long as it normally does.”
And the future is full of question marks. Colleges don’t know how many students will show up in the fall. Many colleges and K-12 schools don’t know when or how they will reopen. Reopening may involve additional expenses — more devices, more cleaning supplies, and so on — that will put further strain on budgets.
The Road Ahead
As schools focus on countless logistical challenges and managing their internal and external communications, MGT can help with the “everything else”. That’s why we’re here. This is what we do. Contact any one of our Education Solutions team members and we stand ready to support and provide advice, or simply a friendly ear to listen and share your concerns.