Cornell Emerging Markets Institute fellow Ari Betof has years of experience in institutional leadership and has advised organizations such as the New England Association of Schools and Colleges and the Southern Association of Schools and Colleges. On Jan. 28, 2020, Dr. Ari Betof published an article on Medium offering early insight into how leaders in schools and colleges across the country should prepare for the Coronavirus crisis. His top two steps were don’t panic, and update the school’s pandemic crisis plan (PCP).
According to him, panicking is too extreme a reaction. While schools should be cautious, they should not overreact. Likewise, they should not ignore the pandemic or pay too little attention to it. They should find the right zone and plan accordingly within that framework.
Next, school leaders should update their PCPs. Many schools already have PCPs, which they prepared during the SARS outbreak of 2003 or the H1N1 pandemic of 2009. If a school or college already has one, it should simply incorporate it into a broader response structure, making adjustments to fit it into the current state of events. If an institution does not have such a plan, it shouldn’t try to reinvent the wheel. Rather, its leadership should contact peers, collect examples, and then adapt and refine them. After this is done, administrators can use tabletop exercise tools such as those available at ready.gov and Alert Media to stress test and adjust their PCPs.
Dr. Betof has more recently offered a series of webinars to help organizations as they move through the crisis.