From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, we’ve all been on more of a “one day at a time” mindset and schedule. None of us can tell what the next day or week will hold. But, that comes in conflict with your critical responsibility as education operation professionals: to be prepared – for what today holds as well as tomorrow.
The reality is that you’ve never had to be “more” than lately. More detail-oriented. More creative with resources. More flexible. More equipped. All to ensure the safety and health of your staff, faculty and students, and ensure you can navigate this pandemic and be ready for the school year – whether virtual, in-person or hybrid.
Another reality amid the pandemic is how this “new normal” is going to affect the way education organizations host, manage and promote events. It varies district to district, but some districts are viewed as the community centers of their area. One truth remains: Events will look very different than they did before.
One thing that we have been amazed by throughout this pandemic is how resilient and creative our Dude Solutions clients have been. Our “unsung heroes” are navigating complex problems brought on by COVID-19, especially with the help of our event management software. Event ManagerTM is helping them more easily:
Host/manage virtual events
Assign and track when classes need to be cleaned
Track who is on campus to manage contact tracing while mitigating risk and liability
While Event Manager is Dude’s tool to help organizations schedule, organize and promote events and facility rentals, lately, it has been that and more.
Check out the stories below of how education operations professionals like you are utilizing Event Manager in unique ways. Our hope is that these examples might aid you in navigating COVID-19 and in reopening schools so that your staff, faculty and students can be as safe as possible.
Shivaji Samanta, Director of Information and Educational Technologies
Cathy Swain, Information Technology Specialist
Like almost all education professionals nationwide, Shivaji Samanta and Cathy Swain headed home for spring break unaware that this would be the last time their campus would be fully operational for quite some time. The message during spring break was that they would wait out the pandemic from home until it was safe to come back to campus.
Being that staff and faculty were only given a few days' notice to head home, Shivaji who is a member of VWCC’s COVID-19 and reopening task forces, was given a few crucial questions to answer and solve:
While working remotely, how can we enable our staff to gain access to the campus safely?
How can we centralize communication with other departments whose jobs might change based on who is on campus?
If an outbreak occurs, how will we know whom to contact for quarantining purposes and to reduce the spread of COVID-19?
Shivaji, Cathy and the task force at large had several goals. But, specifically, they quickly needed to:
Ensure they knew who, where, when, why people were on campus
Make sure shared/public spaces weren’t occupied by more than one person at any given time
Maintain a historical record of occupancy for contact tracing of a COVID-19 outbreak
Save time and money for facilities teams by knowing exactly which locations do/do not need cleaning
Inform campus police where allowed persons were/weren’t on campus day to day
With access to Event Manager, Shivaji and Cathy were able to answer the call and come up with a process to achieve these goals. “We spun up the site in no time. The only delay was in training the users, as Event Manager hadn't been widely deployed yet, and we had to ensure the forms were using with the correct categories to ensure proper approval flow,” Shivaji says when asked how long it took to adapt the product.
Here’s how Event Manager helps VWCC:
Staff needed access to specific rooms on campus while it was closed – Event Manager’s request form was used to ensure the request was documented, proper details were gathered and proper decision makers could approve or deny access.
Staff needed to ensure that multiple people weren’t in the same shared areas at the same time – Event Manager can be setup to prevent double-bookings, therefore staff members can’t request access to the same shared access locations at the same time.
Different locations require different approval processes from different people – With Event Manager, organizations can design customizable approval processes based on location and type(s) of event, getting the right people to weigh in only when needed.
With greater cleaning responsibilities, the maintenance staff needed to know when and where to clean – With Event Manager’s calendaring system, staff can easily see a summary of where people are on campus each day and schedule cleaning tasks within the system, saving staff time.
Police still need to keep the campus safe from unknown visitors – With Event Manager’s calendaring system, police know quickly where persons should/shouldn’t be on campus, allowing them to keep campuses safer.
Ted Gross, Facilities Director
When COVID-19 caused Florida to begin shutdowns this past March, Ted Gross and Trinity Lutheran School had to adjust and come up with a plan very quickly. They also had to quickly make a call on whether to keep their childcare open or not. After putting their heads together, Ted came up with a solution to enable their childcare group, and eventually summer camp and fall school, to resume.
One of the things that enabled us to open up and keep our childcare open was by sharing a sanitation schedule with parents.
It quelled their fears to show that wherever your kids are or will be has been sanitized before and will be sanitized before they get back,” Ted says.
What Ted built with the sanitation schedule is no small feat. In simple terms, Ted had scheduled when kids would and would not be in facilities. This allowed him to prove the model out and adjust until it worked for the childcare.
When the fall semester rolled around, Ted had to create a campus-wide sanitation plan that took into account when kids would and would not be in rooms, so that when they left (and before they got back) the room was sanitized and cleaned. Ted points out that this was a huge piece of the school opening back up in the fall. When asked how he would be managing this if it weren’t for Event Manager, Ted says, “I don’t think we could.”
Ted adds that this campus-wide schedule also allows him to better schedule contractors. “Things are still in need of repairs. In fact, we had a plumber come in just yesterday and say that he would need to use certain equipment. I was able to tell him which hours he could do the work to least affect the students.”
Ted mentioned that he is looking into taking this process to the next level by integrating Event Manager and Asset EssentialsTM, Dude Solutions’ maintenance and asset management software that Trinity uses. The integration between the two solutions would allow sanitation tasks within Event Manager to be routed directly into Asset Essentials as work orders. This means they will:
Accurately track the amount of work happening related to sanitation
Save time and improve communication with a quick, simple way to request maintenance support
Get more done directly without having to leave one system to access the other
As you know, events are going to look different this school year, if they are happening at all. Whether events are going on or not, the best thing you can now is optimize your current process/system.
“When we have a period of closure, the best thing we can possibly do is optimize those systems,” says Paul Timm of Facility Engineering Associates, third-party safety expert. Paul says the ‘magic formula’ that schools should be using during this time to ensure optimization is collaboration + consensus. “We need administrators, emergency responders, outside organizations and students all at a table to dialogue about these things so that there are no surprises.”
We've put together some helpful questions that might help as you begin this dialogue to analyze their current and future event management process at your educational organization.