Using Your Website to Present Information on COVID-19
We have seen several great examples of districts using their website to share information and resources on COVID-19. Take a look at the districts we have highlighted below. Many districts are using Blackboard's "on-screen alert" tool to display important information and/or direct visitors to specific content. In addition, districts are presenting information using the free COVID-19 subsite, Channels/main menu items and/or Sections.
The Niagara Falls City School District is doing a fantastic job utilizing their website as a communication tool while the district is closed due to the virus. The most up-to-date information can be found on the COVID-19 Crisis Management website, which can be accessed from the main menu on the district homepage. The COVID-19 homepage features a series of personal video messages from superintendent, Mr. Mark Laurrie. Videos are posted first to YouTube and then embedded on the website. The homepage also contains a daily written message from the superintendent, a video recording of the most recent board of education meeting, information on meal pick-up and a news item honoring 2 recent NFHS graduates currently serving on the front lines and treating COVID-19 patients. Within the site, parents and students can find on-line learning resources they can access from home. This would include teacher websites, information/links to instructional software, instructions for logging in and access to the parent portal. There are many other great resources within this site. Feel free to take a look around using the link in the title.
Akron Central Schools has taken advantage of the on-screen alert to guide visitors to the most up to date COVID-19 resources. The information is presented on a single page that links to a variety of resources. The page is organized well, using a 2-column page layout and a variety of apps to present information such as academic assignments, messages from the Superintendent, technical support, childcare for medical workers, counseling and more. Each topic links to a new page of information. The left navigation is disabled, which allows the district to utilize the most real estate to post information.
St. Mary’s School for the Deaf uses a Channel (on the Main Menu) to link visitors to COVID-19 resources. St. Mary's was very successful in locating resources to share with their community. The information is presented using a section with a series of pages. The section homepage opens up with a Document Viewer app displaying a print resource titled "What you need to know about coronavirus disease", from the CDC website (cdc.gov). There are several pages containing useful resources from the CDC site, such as an ASL Video Series on COVID-19. In addition to resources from the CDC site, St. Mary's has page content dedicated to meal pick-up, messages for parents, mental health resources and a list of disinfectants for use against SARS-CoV-2 (from epa.gov). Lastly, take a look at the Just For Kids: A Comic Exploring The New Coronavirus. St. Mary's School for the Deaf has done a great job locating outside resources to share with their community.
The Kenmore Tonawanda UFSD uses the on-screen alert feature to direct users to the latest information on COVID-19. The information is posted in a creative way, making navigation simple. There is a COVID-19 Channel (main menu item) that opens to display a drop-down menu as a user hovers over it. Items in the drop-down go to a single section containing a list of pages in the left navigation that match the items in the drop-down menu. This means that users can navigate via the COVID-19 Channel or by clicking pages in the left navigation. If a visitor clicks directly on the COVID-19 Channel or clicks on the first item in the drop-down menu, they will be taken to the COVID-19 homepage. This page contains a "table of contents" that makes it easier for smartphone users to navigate. If a visitor does not click on the > or + symbol, they will still access the same information as visitors that navigate the more traditional way. The district has an abundance of useful resources, such as a "submit your question" page that allows users to do so by using a Google form, email or Facebook. They also have regular COVID-19 updates, information on breakfast/lunch services, instructional resources, free Internet/WiFi, devices for loan and much more.
The Avoca Central School District uses a Channel (main menu item) to present resources on COVID-19. In addition, they have activated the Channel homepage and used this feature to design a directory-style page containing links to all of the resources a parent or student might need. Food services, counseling, FAQ's, educational/learning opportunities, notifications and more are found in the directory. A menu item titled "We Miss You", contains heartfelt messages from teachers to students. This was created using a tool called Kapwing, however this can also be done using the Photo Gallery if you prefer not to use a third party tool.
North Tonawanda City Schools are presenting COVID-19 information and resources using the on-screen alert along with a Channel (main menu item) dedicated to this purpose. The on-screen alert links visitors to a personal video message from the superintendent, Mr. Gregory Woytila. During the school closure, messages are initially provided using Facebook Live then the video is uploaded to Vimeo. The COVID-19 Channel provides visitors with a variety of health resources, educational resources for home learning, meal services, social/emotional resources and more. North Tonawanda takes advantage of the numerous apps that are available for posting information in an easy to navigate manner. Take a look at how they use the accordion app to present information on educational resources for home learning. Click on the greater than symbol to the left of each topic to view the information on that topic.
The Charter School for Applied Technologies has done a wonderful job putting together all the right resources in a format that is easy to navigate. A Channel on the Main Menu is used to share COVID-19 information. The information is broken down into two sections, COVID and Online Learning Resources. The homepage of each section contains a set of eye-catching icons that make it easy for users to find what they are looking for. The COVID-19 section includes updates from the superintendent, meal pick up information, social/emotional resources, links to external resources and more. The Online Learning Resources is broken down into three groups; K-5, 6-8 and 9-12. Each group has a page containing links to relevant resources and information on how to log in.
Amherst Central Schools use the Headlines & Features app under the heading District News on their homepage, as well as a Channel (Main Menu item) to direct visitors to information and resources on COVID-19. Once opened, visitors will first see a page containing information on prevention along with a series of pages on the left hand side of the window. Directly below, a page titled "District Communication" contains a sequential list of district communications for parents. Other pages include information on the emergency nutrition program, grades K-5 packet learning and grades 6-12 online learning, technology support and more. Additionally, the district has provided a series of pages dedicated to counseling resources. The main page contains resources that are broken down by building. Sub-pages contain information including the NYS COVID emotional support hotline, mental health and crisis services and a page dedicated to "resources to remain calm".
Lockport City School District uses 2 slides on the large homepage photo gallery to link visitors to resources on COVID-19 and learning at home. Visitors can also access this area by going to the District Announcements located on the homepage. Each individual school website presents this information in the same manner, making it easy to find resources regardless of which site is visited. The COVID-19 homepage presents information using an attractive 2-column layout along with a variety of apps, such as announcements, site shortcuts, link libraries and the multi-media gallery. On the left navigation you can find information on topics such as meal distribution, community resources, notices from the district and more. Check out a page called Videos from our Schools featuring a personal message from the superintendent, as well as content from Anna Merritt, Charles Upson and North Park Junior High School! The learning at home section begins with announcements, online programs, resources and a guide on Google Classroom. Materials for instruction, broken down by grade level, are located on the left- hand side of the window.
The Holland Central School District is taking advantage of the COVID-19 subsite that has been provided to every district by Blackboard, free of charge. Additionally, Holland uses the on-screen alert feature to direct visitors to this site and to share other important information about food delivery. The crisis site homepage contains a series of links that guide visitors to the most up-to-date information on various topics, such as; general announcements, child care, meal services, technology help, learning at home, mental health resources, building access and contact information. They utilize a variety of apps to share this information. For example, the general announcements are posted using the Headlines and Features app and meal service is posted using the Blog app.
Additional Resources from Blackboard
For anyone still considering launching a Crisis Management Subsite, Blackboard has provided the following short video which discusses best practices:
Blackboard has also provided sample Crisis Management subsites to use as a guide: