Behind the walls of our empty city streets is a flurry of activity as government and education teams make new ways to communicate and continue services and curriculum. As the school year comes to a close, the Mitel state, local government and education (SLED) team of Stephanie Ford (@StephanieFord07), Sue Anders (@SueAnders2) and Steve Conquer (@SteveConquer) along with David Duhn (@DavidDuhn) from Sourcewell, gathered on Twitter for a #MitelChats discussion about coronavirus’ impact on this sector.
What are the biggest challenges facing government and education as a result of COVID-19?
Effective communication and distance learning are the biggest hurdles SLED organizations seem to face. With a broad variety of stakeholders (constituents, students, parents, faculty, internal teams) and so many different areas of business to manage, there is no quick fix. Add to that the fact that they had to pivot instantly and there hasn't been much time to develop a sustainable long-term solution.
Distance learning in particular has presented challenges, especially with enabling disadvantaged youth to get online. And that's just one element of many to consider for education in the post-COVID-19 world.
There is a call for greater communication with parents. And financing the changes necessary to make new processes and investments happen is also top-of-mind.
How are government and education organizations responding to the crisis?
Despite the challenges and rapid changes, SLED organizations are showing tremendous resilience. #MitelChats participants have seen government bodies adapting to working from home while school districts settle quickly into an online learning routine – although each is handling it differently.
As with all sectors, schools and government organizations that were already equipped with remote functionality have been able to get up-and-running much more quickly. Pima County, AZ, for example successfully moved all in-person court proceedings to teleconferences within 48 hours.
How can government and education organizations address immediate operational needs?
Right now, the immediate need is to look at safety while keeping close communication with constituents. In response to the need to share and connect more dynamically, video is becoming the choice communication tool. But this raises the question of security, and schools and government in particular will need to step carefully into this new way of communicating to make sure they're safeguarding vital information.
Another priority as we enter into a forward-looking phase is business continuity. What will things look like in the months and seasons to come? And which tools, practices and vendors will be the best investments to support these organizations the near future? Peering ahead, for now, seems to raise more questions than answers – and it will take time to sort out the right strategy.
What steps can government and education organizations take today for the next emergency?
The pandemic has revealed a greater importance in emergency preparedness and mass notifications – something we as a culture haven't had to think about since Y2K.
As school prepares to wind down for the summer, this is the ideal time to assess what needs to happen to be ready for another emergency. Do older systems need to be upgraded? How can SLED organizations automate the more mundane processes and make better use of their people? A good approach is to look at what needs were left unfulfilled in the initial stages of the pandemic and build those into the strategy for the near and long-term future.
Keep the conversation going and check back for more great Mitel Twitter #MitelChats conversations coming up.