The Fall 2020 semester has provided many moments of learning and growth for those in higher education—whether through online learning, campus resources, or curbing the spread of COVID-19. Many institutions will be taking this knowledge to begin migrating students back to campus for Spring 2021, which poses many communication challenges. In December 2020, The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine released two articles detailing COVID-19 mitigation strategies and best practices for COVID-19 messaging. With EesySoft, you can use the following strategies to promote healthy behaviors for a safe campus.
To effectively curb the spread of COVID-19, universities should take a comprehensive approach, including frequent testing, rapid isolation of individuals who have tested positive, quarantine of those who have potentially been exposed to COVID-19, contact tracing, mask-wearing, physical distancing, and engagement within the university and communities in which the institutions are located.
Beyond the physical recommendations to stop the spread of COVID-19, strategic messaging has become an essential piece of the containment plan. Based on the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine’s (2020) publication, the following recommendations can be made for messaging surrounding the COVID-19 pandemic.
1) Use clear and consistent messaging
Messages from different parts of campus and the surrounding community should be consistent in delivery, content, and tone. Avoid repeating misinformation
2) Emphasize responsibility and positive behavior
Use messages that appeal to a student's developing sense of responsibility rather than focusing on socially undesirable behavior.
3) Promote student agency
Develop communication that supports students’ development of their sense of agency to effect change.
4) Tailor the framing of the message to the audience
Effective framing of the pandemic could focus on how being infected with COVID-19 will affect not only students but also those around them (family members, immunocompromised-individuals, high-risk individuals, etc.).
5) Link prevention behaviors to identities
Sense of identity is important for college students. Appealing to their sense of identity can be useful in establishing behaviors. Use messages that appeal to campus identity ex. “protect the pack,” or “tigers keeping each other safe.” This type of phrasing reminds students that they are part of a collective community.
Check out what some of our customers have been doing to ensure their COVID-19 messaging has successfully aligned with the university’s COVID-prevention strategies.
Community College of Allegheny County (CCAC) highlighted local government-created COVID information to offer consistent messaging throughout the state. CCAC uploaded the COVID information as Support Center articles, so it was always available-- rather than the information disappearing as soon as someone closed the message. Uploading important information, such as this, allows the articles to be referenced again in future EesyMessages.
CCAC's EesyMessage Examples 👇
Additionally, San Diego State University (SDSU) has created clear, consistent messaging about COVID-19 testing on campus. The messages include logos and branding information that assures users who the message is coming from, making them feel more comfortable with pursuing testing options and keeping other residential students safe.
SDSU's EesyMessage Examples 👇
Whether your campus is returning to on-campus learning or is still online, EesySoft can help! EesySoft can create consistent, centrally-located messages that keep your campus community safe during the ongoing pandemic!
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. COVID-19 Testing Strategies for Colleges and Universities. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10/17226/26005
National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine 2020. Encouraging Protective COVID-19 Behaviors among College Students. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. https://doi.org/10/17226/26004
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
Annelise Ewing Goodman and Katie van den Berk are Customer Success Managers at EesySoft. Annelise has a Bachelors and Masters of Science Degree in Communication and is currently finalizing an Ed.D in Educational Administration. Katie also has a Bachelor’s and Master’s of Arts Degree in Communication. Both Katie and Annelise have worked in higher education as instructors and administrators.