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School Leaders’ Toolkit for Responding to COVID-19

Thank you for visiting Corwin’s online toolkit for school leaders! We hope that this page will be helpful for school leaders who are experiencing shut downs and/or moving learning to an online environment during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


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Leading During COVID-19

Taking care of yourself as a school leader 

It’s tempting (and perhaps necessary) to work long hours and put the wellbeing of your students, teachers, and staff above your own. But consider what would happen if you were not available to support them. It’s important to remember that you need to take care of yourself during these critical times. Your school(s) need you to show up as the best version of yourself – physically, emotionally, and mentally!

Managing and Leading Effectively

Times of crisis demand more of a leader. The following resources offer advice and principles for making decisions and communicating effectively during times of uncertainty: 

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Responding to COVID-19

What is your pandemic response plan?

If you have a plan for responding to pandemics, you’re already on the right track! Take a look at your plan and update it in response to current information, and then share the plan with stakeholders (see below).

If don’t have a plan, here are some resources and examples from districts and agencies across the country. While most address pandemic flu, many of the action steps for responding to coronavirus will be the same.

Stay up-to-date on accurate Coronavirus and COVID-19 information.

Misinformation is spreading just as fast as COVID-19, and many organizations and media are working hard to make sure companies and organizations receive accurate updates. Make sure that you are only passing on accurate information regarding the pandemic. Here are some resources where you can find up-to-date and accurate information:

Make sure that your plan is accessible to parents who don’t speak English.

Consider translating your plan and making it available in your students’ home languages.

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Communicating With Teachers, Staff, Families, and the Community

Sharing Your Plan

As soon as you have a response plan in place (with support from your school board), share it with stakeholders, including teachers, staff, families, and the broader community. Some ideas include:

  • Set up a landing page on your district/school website. The Pennsylvania Department of Health website is a good example: “Coronavirus Information for Education
  • Send an email with a link to your school’s landing page and/or attach your pandemic response plan to the email.
  • Use your phone tree to share updates and news with stakeholders, including where they can find the pandemic response plan.
  • Use your school or district’s social media platforms (Twitter, Facebook) to share links to your plan.

Again, for students and families whose at-home language is not English, make sure that communication is accessible in their home language.

Family and Community Engagement 

Many of our authors offer resources to help with community and family engagement during times of crisis. Please see the following free resources: 

What to say about coronavirus and COVID-19

Several organizations are providing good guidance to school leaders and parents about how to talk to their children (and others) about coronavirus. Do NOT be tempted by some of the “fake news” being shared on social media!

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Partnering With Local Businesses and Organizations

Providing Food to Students Who Qualify for Free and Reduced Lunch

One of the most pressing concerns due to the outbreak is how to continue providing food to students who rely on school for daily meals. Here are some examples of how school districts around the country are doing it:

  • Howard County Public School System is providing free “Grab-N-Go" lunches to anyone under the age of 18
  • Memphis is receiving help from a variety of local organizations
  • School systems all over Georgia have plans in place to deliver or provide free meals to students.
  • Hamilton County Schools in Tennessee has provided pick up locations where anyone under the age of 18 can get both breakfast and lunch, March 17-20.

Additional Resources: 

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Preparing Teachers and Students for Online Learning 

Conducting a Technology Audit of Schools and Classrooms

Assign a staff member to conduct a technology audit of processes and systems that the whole school uses. These resources provide helpful guides to conducting a technology audit:

Conducting an Equity Audit of At-Home Technology

Ensuring your students have access to technology is vital to the success of moving teaching and learning online. Some school districts have decided that, if a significant number of students do not have access to at-home technology, they will not conduct any online instruction. Work with your teachers to conduct an audit of the technology your students have at home..

Supporting Students With Low Tech or No Tech

Once you understand which of your students might encounter challenges accessing technology, look into the following resources:

  • Comcast is providing two months of free Internet for new customers who qualify. See their website, Internet Essentials, for details.
  • Videconferencing tool Zoom is providing its services to teachers and students for free. Fill out their K-12 School Verification Form to receive access.
  • Google has made their Hangouts Meet videoconferencing also available for free to G Suite for Education customers through July 1, 2020.
  • Beginning Monday, March 16, Spectrum is providing Internet services for new customers with K-12 or college students in the household.

Preparing Teachers to Teach Online

Teachers will likely have various reactions to the shift to teaching online during school closures. Some may be excited, some dreading it, and others somewhere in between. No matter what their level of readiness, here are some resources that can help lead this shift.

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Supporting Online Instruction

For many teachers, the outbreak will be the first time they have encountered teaching in an online environment. To support teachers, we have created a collection of Resources for Teaching Online. For leaders, here are a few additional items to consider when leading instruction:

Please see our Resources for Teaching Online for more resources to support teachers.

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Connecting With Other School Leaders Online

Finally, it’s important to remember that YOU ARE NOT ALONE during this time! You can find new resources and support from fellow school leaders online with the following resources:

Twitter/Social Media Hashtags

Facebook Groups

Other Online Resources


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