Provided by Tom Ulmet on March 1, 2020.

This list was prepared by Heads who experienced at least four different infectious diseases in China since 2003. It is designed for Heads of international schools in countries where schools have been closed or may be closed due to infectious disease. It may not be relevant to other types of schools in countries where there is low rate of incidence or where schools are not closed.


1.  With Board or Owner and Management Team: 

  • Review existing policy to see if all conditions are covered and create new policy to fit new conditions not addressed
  • Review refund policy to be sure it addresses force majeure and government mandatory closings to avoid refunds beyond the school’s control.
  • Review enrolment and budget implications
  • Review online learning objectives and capabilities
  • Create or update strategic plan for this unique situation and revise as conditions change
  • To be well informed, review staff contracts to see how flexible they may be for unusual conditions
  • Develop contingency plan in the event of voluntary or mandatory school year extensions
  • Review the school hygiene and cleaning policy, the staff or cleaning company agreements and emergency needs
  • Decide on feasibility of wearing masks in school
  • Check school calendar for possible make-up teaching time from planned school trips or other special events that were scheduled for all or part of a school day. 
  • Create or review a policy on make-up days for school days missed for specific reasons
  • Prepare for possible government mandated make-up days, examine your options and contracts and prepare evidence to support the decision you want.

2.  Communications: Weekly Updates 

  • Include Business Manager, HRD, Government and Parent Relations staff in planning and decision making so everyone has consistent information for PR. 
  • Local government for latest information and directives
  • Staff: Advise about government directives, school policies and online learning
  • Parents:  update about outlook, online learning, staff contracts, refund policy and other relevant school policies
  • Student leaders: Advise and seek advice so they can feel part of the solution
  • Consult with and keep embassies or consulates informed of decisions taken
  • Consult with local Chambers of Commerce to see if they have surveyed their members staffing plans for the remainder of the year and into the following year
  • Regularly review updates from key front-line health organizations

3.  Enrolment Management:

  • Confer with corporate clientele to determine if they plan to evacuate foreign workers and how long
  • Conduct survey of parents to determine their plans
  • If school closings last more than one month, survey corporate clients to determine how many families they hope will return to finish the school year
  • Revise the normal re-enrolment survey to include questions about if they will return and when
  • When the campus re-opens, monitor daily attendance to determine trends
  • Plan for enrolment downturn for the next school year. Past occasions when government evacuations were advised by some governments resulted in enrolment decreases into the following year

4. Curriculum and Online Study:

  • Liaise with outside agencies to/with whom you may have obligations (the IB, Cambridge Assessments, AP, accreditation agencies, banks or lending institutions, etc.) in the event that timed obligations require adjustment, or student interests require advocacy
  • Develop a system for curriculum monitoring- especially important if a head will need  to justify the work covered over the weeks of school suspension, and also for ensuring balance delivery
  • Review online learning plan with school leaders and technology specialists
  • Define or review roles and responsibilities for online learning
  • Share guidelines and reporting lines with staff
  • Enlist the most informed staff to provide online staff training for delivering online study
  • Provide feedback schedule for teachers to leaders about online learning progress and its strengths and weaknesses
  • Ask teachers for suggestions for improvement to overall system

5. School Hygiene:

  • Develop or refine school cleaning plans to include 3 or more levels depending on your school’s needs, 
    • normal; 
    • advanced for contagious influenza or childhood diseases; 
    • intensive for infectious diseases
  • Create chlorine shoe disinfection points at gates and entrances to school building
  • Train nurses and security to be prepared to monitor those who enter the school
  • Prepare for temperature monitoring on buses and/or at school entrances
  • Review Food service preparation and hygiene and share the plan and procedures with staff, students and parents
  • Prepare a plan to prohibit visitors from entering the campus, including deliveries. If meetings of some sort are absolutely necessary, arrange a venue at the edge of the campus.

6. Personnel Management:

  • Keep staff fully informed about any quarantines that are in place
  • Review teacher contracts as linked to the school calendar in order to enable or avoid additional teaching days beyond the school calendar
  • For those outside the country, remind of potential re-opening dates and remind of the 14-day self-quarantine before the re-opening date.
  • Remind all in management that teachers are the school’s most valuable resource
  • Maintain ongoing individual and department contact with teachers to seek input and provide encouragement
  • Develop contingency plan in the event of mandatory school year extensions
  • Survey staff at optimal time to determine how many may decide not to return the following year

7.  Finance:

  • Consistently apply the school’s refund policy related to force majeure or mandatory government closings
  • Review budget implications for closure and enrolment loss
  • Examine any additional budget needs due to strengthened hygiene
  • Work with HRD and Admissions to examine possible staffing and enrolment in current year
  • Project ahead to determine how many staff need to be replaced or released due to enrolment changes. 
  • Project for possible enrolment pullback in the following year based on surveys taken
  • Estimate if reserves will be needed for remainder of this school year and/or next school year.