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Back to School Safety and Insurance Tips

We’re finally approaching the end of the summer break - an ideal time for schools to review their safety guidelines, risk-management strategies, insurance policies, and ensure all is on track for the new academic year. While this is something that educational institutions should do every year, the unprecedented school closures as a result of the coronavirus pandemic this year has arguably brought safety to the forefront of the agenda. Given this, school insurance expert Pacific Prime will shed light on the matter.

Safety approaches in the “new normal”

Going back to school is an exciting time for students as they progress into the next grade level, reunite with friends, and meet new classmates. Yet, it’s also a time for heightened risks and unforeseen mishaps. What’s more, some of the students, especially the younger ones, may not fully grasp the magnitude of the global health crisis. Add concerned parents into the mix and schools are going to have a lot on their plates. Here are a couple of tips to give teachers and parents the confidence in your educational institution’s approach to safety:

  • Update safety guidelines: Threats are constantly evolving, so your school’s safety plan should as well. Ensure the guidelines are up to date to include the latest recommendations from the WHO. Remember to communicate this to staff to avoid them giving out conflicting advice to students. Furthermore, make sure illustrative versions of the guidelines are plastered throughout the school.
  • Introduce new school rules: You could take the students’ temperature as they arrive on campus and offer them hand sanitizer as they enter classrooms. Other social distancing and hygiene measures will apply depending on the situation in your local area. These may include spacing out the desks, making face masks mandatory, disinfecting facilities more often, etc.
  • Be prepared to shift classes online: A second wave of the virus is the last thing anyone wants, but it sure can’t hurt to have a contingency plan. If you’ve got the systems in place to facilitate online classes and quickly adapt your approach, it’ll reassure parents’ that your school won’t hesitate to close if the matter escalates. Of course, you’ll get bonus points for prioritising both safety and education.
  • Focus on mental health issues: Safety is often thought of in physical terms, but mental health is equally important. Depression and anxiety can be all too common on school grounds, as students grapple with cyberbullying, peer pressure, and now the uncertainties in the world. It’s a good idea to increase the number of school counsellors on hand and train your staff to better recognise mental health symptoms in students.
  • Review school safety issues frequently: Holistic approaches to safety are preferable, as each school has unique problems. Go over potential safety issues your school might face on a regular basis - being careful not to forget the full range of threats that may or may not be related to the coronavirus, such as risks associated with students commuting, accidents outdoors, emergency preparedness, as well as risks at the management level.

Managing risks with school insurance

Even the best-laid plans can fail. That’s where insurance comes in. It can help schools hedge against the risks in case things don’t go well. Whether it’s the safety of students and staff, or damage to property and technical infrastructure, having the right school insurance in place can protect your educational institution. Comparing school insurance plans is not an easy task, as there can be many different elements to it. Here we’ll go through some of the school insurance solutions that deal with prominent risks.

  • Ensure the wellbeing of your staff: Providing a group health insurance plan to your staff will encourage them to access medical services. It can help prevent the spread of seasonal flu - something you definitely want happening in light of the coronavirus pandemic. Review the insurance policy and pay close attention to the terms. Check that coverage is provided for health checkups, GP visits, vaccination, etc.
  • Make students’ health and safety a priority: Field trips abroad are an integral part of a student’s education at international schools. Even though it may be a while until overseas travel becomes safe again, schools should review international health insurance for students in case it’s needed later on in the academic year. When it comes to organising plans for an entire cohort, adequate and advanced planning is imperative.
  • Consider events that could damage school property: The best of international schools have state-of-the-art facilities that cost a monumental amount. Property insurance is dedicated to protecting the schools’ buildings and the contents within in the event of unforeseen damages or loss. This is a good insurance plan to have as things like fire, storms, or theft can bring about near or total destruction of a school.
  • Safeguard yourself against data breaches: International schools are increasingly adopting online systems that store large amounts of data like students’ and staffs’ personal details, health information, credit card numbers, etc. This can leave schools’ vulnerable to data breaches, if cyber security isn’t up to mark. For increased peace of mind, secure a cyber insurance plan.
  • Prevent mounting costs for lawyers or payouts to claimants: Don’t rule out potential lawsuits facing your school or your staff in our increasingly litigious society. Alleged wrongdoing and misconduct charges may be brought onto the Directors and Officers, causing a massive drain on your schools’ resources. To prevent this, it's worth reviewing your school's professional indemnity and liability insurance.

More tips for school insurance solutions available 

The aforementioned information provides a snapshot of school insurance solutions, but Pacific Prime has got a lot more to share regarding this. They are a health insurance broker and school insurance specialist, dedicated to simplifying the complex world of insurance. Download their School Insurance Guide for in-depth information on comparing school insurance and securing the right plan for your needs. For an impartial review of your schools’ insurance coverage, you can also get in touch with Pacific Prime’s consultants. 

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