Returning to Work and School: Thinking above the challenges of COVID-19

South African philosopher and humanist Auliq Ice said, “The capacity to solve life’s problems is based on our abilities to learn to think above and not below the problems.” This is the spirit school administrators and employers can tap into as they tackle all of the variables surrounding the reopening of businesses and schools. While the COVID-19 pandemic has created many new challenges, there are solutions and feasible avenues to navigate. There are resources both locally and nationally that have quickly become accessible for employers and school administrators to turn to as they move ahead with business as usual. We have complied some of them below, organized by the three over-arching areas of concentration for schools and businesses, as well as the community.

The top three priorities

For everyone, whether a decision-maker for a company, school district, or university, the following are three areas of concentration that rise to the top as policies and procedures are put into place.

  1. Providing protection from infection for employees and students. The No. 1 priority for all is ensuring that as people return to their workplace or their school, steps have been taken to provide protection from the COVID-19 virus. For businesses, it may cover areas such as office arrangements, employee temperature monitoring, sanitation, and perhaps staggered hours. For schools, there are additional considerations for classroom education, cafeteria protocol, music, and gym and sports activities, among many more. The following reliable resources offer lots of advice and recommendations:

Resources for schools:

Resources for employers:

  1. Following protocol outlined by state and local health authorities while maintaining effective work/school operations. The challenge becomes, “How do we follow the recommended guidelines for re-opening and still run our business efficiently, or teach our children effectively?” The answer may be found in resilience, determination, and creativity. As business people and educators, we are used to tackling challenges, and this is a big one. However, if we rely on our innovative and resilient natures, we will find a way to accomplish what we need to do. Here are some resources that may help:
  1. Reducing anxiety and building confidence for employees and staff. As business and school leaders actively address the challenges posed by COVID-19 at work and school, the more confident employees, students, and staff will be about returning. Many schools that are planning in-person education in the fall have already prepared a “Health and Safety Plan.” This is an outline that addresses each area of concern and its corresponding solution. Businesses are encouraged to do the same. Open communication about how a company is responding in itself is reassuring, as is knowing that a practical and realistic plan is in place. Here are some resources that may help with easing anxiety for employees and staff:

An unpredictable time

For some businesses and schools, including numerous local colleges and universities, continuing to operate using remote engagement for employees or students is the best choice. Situations vary, and each organization will make a determination that best suits its own particular community, population, activities, and risk level. Certainly, the return to work or school is not a one-size-fits-all process. Most importantly, it’s vital to be able to reach out to those that can help achieve the goals your organization has in mind.

Learn more about return to work/school services available locally, from medical policy consultation to COVID-19 evaluation and testing.