Drawing on more than 15 years of experience serving clients ranging from private sector companies to schools and nonprofit groups, Ari Betof serves as the president of Organizational Sustainability Consulting. In late January, Ari Betof wrote an article for Medium in which he suggested that educational institutions prepare by re-examining their current pandemic crisis plan (PCP). Those that headed this advice had significantly longer to prepare than other organizations.
Following the outbreak of SARS in 2003, many schools and colleges launched a PCP to handle the situation and prepare for future pandemics, such as that of H1N1 in 2009. Educational institutions with such a plan already in place may still find staff members lack awareness regarding its implementation, or that it may require revision to address changes that have taken place during the last decade.
In order to ensure the success of a PCP, colleges and schools must seek to fill its potential gaps rather than simply gather staff members to talk about it. An excellent format for this process involves a roundtable exercise, which requires a facilitator to direct participants in thinking through their response to possible emergency scenarios.
Despite taking the time to prepare a PCP, those in leadership positions still must remain flexible to meet the demands of changing situations and keep themselves updated with the latest information. Challenges lie ahead in dealing with such epidemics within educational institutions, especially with the continued increase in international students. However, communication remains key to maintaining a state of calm regardless of shifting circumstances.