As the COVID-19 curve begins to (hopefully) level off, returning employees to work and students to school will be a far cry from "business as usual." Even as COVID-19 vaccines become more widely available, organizations and institutions must develop detailed plans as people return. While these plans will vary, there are some general templates and best practices that can be followed based on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and general mental health guidelines.
Central to any successful plan is an effective communications strategy. In many cases, employees and students may be anxious about making this shift. Properly preparing and transparently communicating safety plans will help alleviate those fears. Some common back to work/school safety measures include:
- Regularly scheduled COVID-19 health screenings
- Contact tracing procedures
- Mass alerts to those potentially exposed
- Surveys regarding vaccination intent
- Communication of vaccination policies
- COVID-19 vaccination mass notifications
- Staggering shifts, schedules, and breaks
- Complying with record-keeping and reporting obligations
COVID-19 Health Screening
Back to work/school screenings, such as the example below, can be automatically scheduled to send through mass text and push notifications to your contact lists on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis using mass notification systems like Omnilert. Setting up this scheduling functionality will enable you to comply and adhere to best practices without increased workload for your administrators.
Templates can be easily copy and pasted from credible sources and replicated into your mass notification software platform. For example, the initial question in the COVID-19 screening template provided by the CDC is:
Have you experienced any of the following symptoms in the past 48 hours? Yes/No
- fever or chills
- shortness of breath or difficulty breathing
- muscle or body aches
- new loss of taste or smell
- sore throat
- congestion or runny nose
- nausea or vomiting
Responses can be logged for tracking purposes and follow up messages can be sent to sub-groups based on their responses. For instance, if individuals respond "Yes" to the screening question, they can be automatically placed into a group and sent further instructions and more personalized messages, such as "Based on your response, we ask that you do not physically return to the workplace and work from home until symptoms have subsided for more than 48 hours."
The process of subdividing large audiences into groups which can be contacted and queried independently as to their specific needs and observations is referred to as "mass engagement." Omnilert Engage is the industry's first solution for true mass engagement.
Traditional mass notification systems are limited to one-way broadcast or a two-way function that forces organizations into 1:1 communications, which clearly does not work in real-life situations with thousands of people. Engage’s mass engagement functionality allows even a small team to have rich interaction with audiences of any size by breaking them into smaller targeted groups. Engage also includes Omnilert’s award-winning “Instant App,” which enables this functionality to be available to users without requiring them to download or install a safety app.
COVID-19 has imposed a new normal that may become a permanent normal for how we think and act in crisis situations. Aside from sending automated screenings, mass notification systems can be used to send other types of regularly scheduled non-emergency communications, as well as emergency notifications.
Regardless, organizations and institutions reopening operations must expand existing safety protocols and rapidly deploy response plans for their employees and students to stay safe.