With many after-school programs beginning in the middle of August, it's time to plan and create contingency plans in case you have to cancel your in-person program.
If in-person programs are canceled, young people need to remain engaged and active. Many of your participants are children of essential workers who will need some outlet and supervision. While in-person programs may not possible, strongly consider continuing the program through virtual learning.
By making plans now, you’ll make the best out of the situation, continue bringing revenue into your program and optimize its exposure and enrollment.
- Local policies are fluid, changing daily. For example, some school districts and, by extension, after-school programs, require children to stay home for 72 hours following a fever.
- Set aside time to review and update emergency contact information for each child registered in your program. Familiarity with your contact list and families will help you pivot quickly, ultimately enhancing your program's future.
- Study your curriculum and lesson plan and come up with a plan if your program has to suddenly teach virtually. Do you need to teach all the lessons or projects? Can you condense or expand your lesson plans? Do you have supplies handy to deliver to participants (or have them pick up) if it goes virtual?
Have Video Tutorials Ready
You don’t have to have an entire library of tutorials, but having video tutorials on hand alleviates the stress of pivoting to virtual learning. Back-up tutorials will help if you need to split your class into smaller groups, or if you need to find a quick substitute if one of your instructors calls in sick.
Utilize Social Media
Social media gives your program the ability to quickly and directly communicate updates to your participants and audience in general. As a class or program director, social media gives you the opportunity to listen to concerns. It gives you a window into your participants’ mindset and what is happening in general in your industry.
Whatever the platform, social media, email or messaging, communicate frequently. Participants and families need information in times of uncertainty. If the class is canceled or is pivoting to virtual learning, it’s essential to deliver the news quickly, timely and matter-of-factly.
Consider message apps like GroupMe, Remind, or check out Best Messaging Apps for Teachers or Schools. These apps are often used by after-school programs.
Be Overly Responsive
Just as you regularly communicate with your participants, give yourself a specific time frame to respond to a parent or participant’s question. Most program managers return emails or messages within 24 hours.
Offer a Class Discount
Because you’re saving money on virtual programs, rental facilities and additional staff and overhead, offer a class discount.
During stressful times, families often remember the programs that are willing to pivot and work together. While a discount reduces your revenue, it creates goodwill with your participants and the community at large.
Familiarize Yourself with Virtual Programs
If you were thrown into teaching a virtual program because of the sudden shutdown last spring, you are a Zoom class pro. If you haven’t done virtual teaching just yet, here are some Tips for Virtual Tutoring.