Education & Government
Kathleen Vail Image
Kathleen Vail
Former Editor-in-Chief, National School Boards Association

How technology can help schools with crisis management

October 23, 2023
0 min read
Technology can help schools with crisis management

School boards are responsible for ensuring that their schools are safe places for students to learn and teachers and staff to work. Planning for the unexpected – from natural disasters to public health emergencies – is part of that responsibility.

Effective crisis management is essential in the board’s effort to protect students, staff and the school community. It’s an enormous undertaking, but fortunately, board management technology tools can help support crisis management plans and activities before, during and after an emergency.

“School board members and superintendents must be well versed in school safety because at the end of the day, it is our leaders who are held accountable,” writes John McDonald of the Council for the School Safety Leadership in Campus Safety.

Board management technology can help school leaders to coordinate, communicate and, in many cases, mitigate the impact of an emergency or crisis. It streamlines processes, ensures data security, and enables efficient management of resources and information, ultimately helping school districts navigate challenges more effectively.

“School board members and superintendents must be well versed in school safety because at the end of the day, it is our leaders who are held accountable” - John McDonald, Council for the School Safety Leadership

Leadership challenges during a crisis

When a crisis occurs, school leaders and board members must act quickly, with clarity and unity. The people caught up in the emergency must also act quickly and with clarity. Training, planning, and preparation must occur before a crisis for that to happen. Here are some of the challenges in a crisis and ways that technology can support you.

Mounting pressure

Under stress, it can be easy for administrators, teachers, staff, and students to forget their drills and procedures. Consistent training and preparedness activities make it more likely that everyone in the situation will respond as they’ve been prepared to. A strong crisis management plan with clear instructions that are easily accessible through your board management platform can help with training, which goes a long way in supporting staff under pressure during an emergency.

In addition to training, having essential and trusted information available in one place is vital a crisis. Along with accessing crisis management plans and instructions, board members and staff can use the software to access crisis-related documents, policies, procedures and guidelines from a centralized repository. This ensures that all parties have access to the most current information available.

Timely, accurate information

Timely communication is essential for making informed decisions. Confusion and misinformation, while often unavoidable in high-stress situations, can impede timely decision-making. Board management software allows for real-time updates and notifications, ensuring that superintendents, board members, and administrative staff receive critical information promptly. It ensures they all get the same message at the same time, so everyone is on the same page.

The software must be accessible from various devices, so superintendents, board members and staff can easily stay connected and informed, even when they are not on site. It must also be secure to ensure that sensitive, crisis-related discussions are kept confidential. This is crucial for maintaining trust and preventing misinformation from spreading to staff and the community.

Lines of communication

Panic and fear churn out rumors and misinformation during a crisis, which can exacerbate an already bad situation. Parents will be understandably worried about their children. Community members who turn to social media for information may not be getting the best and most accurate information.

During a crisis, clear and trusted messages from school leaders are essential. Software can facilitate the management of public communications, helping superintendents share updates, announcements and important information with parents, students and the community through a secure platform and public website.

Remote meetings and decision-making

When a crisis occurs, it’s important that the board and staff work in unity. However, there may not be time for the board and superintendent to meet in person. Board management software often includes features for hosting secure virtual meetings, enabling the board, superintendent and administrative staff to convene and make decisions without physical gatherings.

Board management software also streamlines the creation, distribution, and tracking of meeting agendas and related documents, which is especially helpful when emergency meetings are called.

What needs to be done

During and after a crisis, crucial steps and tasks will need to be taken. Confusion about who is responsible for these action items and when they need to be done is common during emergencies. Board management software often includes features that can help superintendent and administrators assign responsibility and monitor progress.

Crisis recovery

What happens after a crisis is as important as reaction during the crisis. Lines of communication put into place during the crisis must remain open. The board and superintendent must be transparent in recovery efforts, communicating those efforts to everyone involved and the community.

Staff, parents, and community members should be informed of leadership actions during the crisis. Board software can create a transparent record by tracking votes and decisions made during meetings. This helps maintain accountability and ensures that everyone is on the same page.

Document archiving and compliance features ensure that records related to the crisis are securely stored and easily retrievable for future reference or audit purposes.

What to look for in technology

The right board management software supports boards and districts during times of crisis. Here’s what to look for:

  • Board members can access information anytime, anywhere and on any device.
  • The document library allows board members and staff to search for and pull up past information quickly if needed.
  • Data about the crisis event can be stored securely.
  • Speedy and secure communications can go out to board members.
  • Contact details for crisis communications can be held centrally for ease of access.
  • Reports from committees, staff, consultants or other key parties can be distributed quickly.
  • The district’s crisis response plan can be developed and stored on the platform.
  • Communication to the public and school community through the district’s public website can be streamlined, allowing updates from a single trusted source.

Using technology tools for crisis planning and management, school boards can strengthen their district’s preparedness, response, and recovery capabilities, ultimately ensuring the safety of students and staff while maintaining educational continuity. Board management technology streamlines communication, coordination, training, and documentation — before, during and after the crisis.

Technology tools such as Diligent Community support school boards by gathering essential information and data in one place, so it can be accessed easily on a secure platform. Talk to us today to find out how Diligent Community can support your school district in crisis planning and management.


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