School Communication

6 Tips for Crisis Communications in Your School District

Are you prepared to handle your K12 school district crisis communications? The time to get ready is NOW. Read on for our best tips for crisis communications!

Have you established a strategy for crisis communications in your district? When the unexpected strikes, will you be prepared to communicate that clearly & consistently with your community? Whether it’s a natural disaster, a student safety issue, or something else—the time to plan your response is well before it ever comes up.

Though we all hope we are never in that situation, the truth is that it’s impossible to avoid the unexpected. The best plan is to prepare ahead, so whenever a crisis strikes you’ll be ready. Read on for our best tips on crisis communications in your K-12 district.

A Disclaimer

This post is intended to help you navigate a crisis situation with your school communication, and to plan ahead so that you’ll be ready if you find yourself in a situation like that. However, a little disclaimer is necessary before we go any further: this post is not intended to replace legal advice. Some of the situations that might apply to this type of communication will involve sensitive, personal information; you should always check with legal counsel and be sure to avoid privacy violations before communicating with your district as a whole about these types of situations.

Tip #1: Act Swiftly

Nothing moves faster than the rumor mill—that’s why you need to be prepared to act (and communicate) swiftly in a crisis situation. If you take too much time to gather your thoughts, your community will fill in the gaps on their own, and it may even come off looking like you aren’t concerned about the crisis at hand. If possible, draft some “stock” messages about possible scenarios ahead of time, which you can use as rough drafts in the event of a crisis. Not having to start from scratch will save you time in the moment. Getting ahead of the message means that your district office becomes the source of truth, not the local community Facebook group. 

Tip #2: Start with Those Immediately Affected

If your crisis doesn’t directly involve the entire school community, make sure you first communicate with the folks who are immediately affected by it. Call parents of students, staff members, or other stakeholders who are involved directly so that they have an opportunity to ask questions & get reassurance from your leadership team.  

Tip #3: Filter Appropriate Information

Before you make your community-wide announcement, make sure to think about what is necessary for the public to know, and also what is appropriate to share. This is where that disclaimer comes in; you can’t share anything that might violate someone’s personal privacy, but it’s important not to maintain radio silence, either. Even a simple announcement that you are aware of the situation and are taking steps to resolve it is better than no announcement at all. 

Tip #4: Use All Your Channels

Your community members engage with information from you on several different channels, so make sure you utilize all of them in your crisis communications. Post to your website & share out via your social media channels, your mobile app, and your mass messaging tool so that nobody misses the announcement. 

Tip #5: Connect to Community Resources

Your leadership team needs to be the ultimate source for all information & updates on this crisis situation. Connect to your local news outlets and issue an official statement from the district, which will hopefully prevent them from capitalizing on rumor and hearsay. If your community needs support from emergency services or mental health professionals, get those resources up and running as soon as you can, and make that part of your official announcement. 

Tip #6: Control Your News Feed Before a Crisis

You can start applying this first step right away: fill your school district news feed with positive stories, student & teacher accomplishments, awards, & kudos now. This way, when you do have to communicate about something that is negative in some way, it isn’t the only update living on your website or the Google news results for your district. If you’re proactive with positive news on a regular basis, your community will be that much more receptive when you have bad news to share.

In a crisis, it’s important to have a clear plan. Make sure you establish a policy on crisis communications for your district now, before you ever need it. Communicate that plan with anyone who would be involved with communications in a crisis event, and that way you’ll be ready when crisis strikes. Consider running tabletop exercises with all key personnel in which you simulate your reaction to a crisis. Hope for the best, but plan for the worst, and your communication strategy will serve you well in a time of need.

Can you communicate with your entire community across channels in just a few clicks?

Will those messages translate into all the languages spoken at home? Whether you want to share a celebration or take control of a crisis, having the important communication tools is the key to consistent, up-to-date information.

We’d love to show you a free demonstration of how the Edlio platform is designed to reach every family:


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