COVID-19: Planning in a Time of Panic

Advice to help your program through the emerging health crisis

“There are some things you learn best in calm, and some in storm.” — Willa Cather

We have been carefully watching the effects that COVID-19 has had across the country, particularly on educational programs.

We understand the challenges that you’re working through: concerns about lost revenue, ongoing expenses, and what registration volume may look like for your organization over the near and medium-term.

While we can’t tell you when things will return to “normal,” we’re confident that normalcy will return. To that end, we’d like to share some strategies to help provide continuity for your organization and learning community over the coming weeks and months.

Instead of Cancelling

While your first reaction might be to cancel classes altogether, there are other options at your disposal that you may be overlooking.

#1: Don’t cancel, postpone

No one really wants a class to cancel. Not you, not the instructor, nor the students who were excited to attend. While they may be absent for the next few weeks during this crisis, their interest in class is unlikely to abate. If you can, consider postponing your classes instead of canceling, so that when things calm down, everyone can still get the class they were looking forward to. Postponing also allows you to keep more cash with your organization rather than refunding it all back to the student.  

#2: Consider remote instruction

Follow the lead of many higher education institutions and consider temporarily shifting existing classes to remote instruction through video. Many classes and presentations can be live broadcast to attendees with affordable and accessible software solutions. From Vimeo or YouTube’s live streaming services to conferencing providers like Google Hangouts Meet, Zoom, and GoToMeeting.

For example, rather than cancel a show, one arts organization we follow is recording its spring youth drama performance and providing streaming video access to its ticket holders. A great, creative solution to the problem at hand!

If you must cancel

We understand. Here are some tips to help reduce the impact to your program.

#1 Use promo codes

Instead of refunds, offer customers credit for future classes to replace the class they’re unable to take.  As mentioned above, this helps your business keep cash on hand which is more important than ever when facing unprecedented circumstances.

#2: Convert to donation

Give your students the chance to donate the cost of their class to your program rather than take a refund.

#3: Increase your online class offerings

Consider adding classes to your program that are already designed for independent learning. For community education programs, ed2go offers a suite of excellent online classes you can resell at your program.

#4: Call your insurance agent

Your organization may have insurance coverage that can help reduce the effect of the disruption (ask about coverage from “event insurance” or “business disruption insurance”). It’s certainly worth checking with your provider.

#5: Use this downtime to prepare for the upswing

While your program may be quiet over the coming weeks, this is a perfect time to start planning your next move. After lots of time stuck indoors, students will be jumping at the chance to make up for lost time. With proper planning, you can be sure to be there right when they need you.

Keep in mind that decisions made today don’t have to be final or absolute. It’s ok to make a decision that affects your immediate needs without trying to plan for the entire future. Use this opportunity to run an experiment and try something new. If it works, you may just end up with a new tool in your toolbelt!

More resources to come

While all this continues to unfold, we at CourseStorm will be researching best practices and providing resources to help affected programs make the best of a hard situation.

We genuinely respect that this situation is causing a financial burden for many programs and we’re working on a plan to help lessen the financial burden for our most heavily affected clients. We will be sharing more information about our plans in the coming week.

Until then, even if we’re technically isolated, we will all be pulling together, learning together, and adapting together.

Be well. ❤️