Communication

Communication
 

The goal of Worcester County Public Schools’ Office of Public Relations & Special Programs (OPR) is to inform, engage and inspire trust from all stakeholders and our community.

No matter the circumstances, the OPR relays vital information to all stakeholders, supports crisis situations, continues to build and enhance the Worcester County Public Schools brand, directs community relations, responds to the media, and leads many other “business as usual” communication efforts. 

Through lessons learned both during the pandemic and prior, we recognize that to deliver timely and effective communication, we must remain agile, flexible, creative, and responsive. We must also maintain our efforts to ensure school system communications are accessible and easily understandable for our diverse community. 

INTERNAL COMMUNICATION

Worcester County Public Schools provides crisis and regular updates to employees via multiple channels including email, social media, video, automated notifications, and face-to-face or virtual meetings. The following notification tools will be primarily utilized to engage and inform employees.

  • WCPSAll Email – Email to employees continues to serve as the primary channel for internal communications. Information shared on the Responsible Return 3.0 plan will continue to be branded as such when disseminated through this channel.
  • Automated Notifications – The school system and all schools provide important updates and crisis alerts utilizing the SchoolMessenger automated broadcast platform. Faculty and staff lists have been established for targeting internal messages. 
  • Communication Toolkits for Leaders – A best practice that emerged throughout the pandemic was the production of comprehensive toolkits for school- and Central Office leaders to ensure clear, consistent messaging across the school system.

EXTERNAL COMMUNICATION

External communication will remain adaptive. Major announcements and day-to-day messaging for external stakeholders (families, students, employees, community members, media, elected officials, and others) will include emails, automated notifications, websites, media engagement and news coverage, social media, and video. Key communication tools to support the Responsible Return plan include, but are not limited to:

  • Responsible Return Webpage – The existing Responsible Return public-facing webpage on the existing Worcester County Public Schools website will be updated to reflect the revisions reflected in the updated plan. This webpage will be the “hub” for all communications, as all communication vehicles will refer recipients back to this hub. 
  • Automated Notifications - The district and all schools provide important updates and crisis alerts utilizing the SchoolMessenger automated notification platform. Transcripts of these notifications will be available (in translatable formats) on our website. 
  • Media Response - Reactive and proactive activity with local, regional, and national media to provide timely and accurate responses to media inquiries. Produce and promote Worcester County stories about schools, student achievement, and district activities. 
  • Videography - Produce high quality visual storytelling for all audiences. The school system website and social media, including livestreaming and potentially new broadcast outlets will serve as content distribution platforms.

The OPR will also support school-level outreach and communication as school administration utilize already established channels to provide school-specific messaging. This support will continue through the established protocols. 

CRISIS COMMUNICATION

The health and safety of Worcester County Public Schools students and staff remains our top priority. Crisis communications encompasses community messaging and school support related to incidents and issues such as lockdowns, shelter in place, threats, etc. Schools will be the primary resource for determining and delivering building-level emergency messaging under the direction of the Chief Safety & Human Relations Officer, the OPR, and any appropriate personnel (i.e. Mental Health Coordinator).

COMMUNITY OUTREACH & ENGAGEMENT / STAKEHOLDER FEEDBACK

The school system will continue to develop and nurture partnerships and relationships with community organizations, interest groups, and initiatives that align with and support Worcester County Public Schools’ mission, vision, and strategic plan as well at the Responsible Return plan. 

STAKEHOLDER INPUT 

Each month, the Board of Education offers members of the public an opportunity to share feedback on all issues – including the Responsible Return plan. On average since August, we have had 4-5 people attend monthly to share feedback on the COVID-19 protocols included in our plan. 

Additionally, as any change is made to the Responsible Return plan, it is immediately communicated with all stakeholders. In turn, some stakeholders contact the Board of Education office directly to share their feedback through the means available to them (website, direct messaging through social media channels, etc.)

More formally, virtual stakeholder meetings specific to the Responsible Return plan were held on Wednesday, January 19, 2022 (Artifacts) and August 8, 2022. At these meetings, an overview of all updates to the Responsible Return plan was shared, and attendees were given the opportunity to offer feedback on the current iteration of the plan and what they would like to see moving forward.