Even two weeks ago when I last wrote, we had no idea of the wide-ranging impact that was coming to Christian schools regarding the Coronavirus, nor the dramatic roller-coaster ride of the Stock Market. Many Christian school leaders have not had to deal with anything of similar nature in their careers or in the life of their schools.
So, how should you view re-enrollment, new admissions, financial aid, and school budget adjustments if the long-term impact of COVID-19 is still an unknown? Allow me to offer a few suggestions that I hope will give you some guidance.
OVER-ARCHING GENERAL PRINCIPLE - Obviously, don't set your mind to worry! As Christians, we know that God never wants us to join in hysteria. The Author of Peace is OUR GOD. The Christian school is under the watchful care and provision of God, not man. Act wisely and with caution, but do not panic!
REGARDING RE-ENROLLMENT - Proceed as normal. Keep re-enrollment materials on the minds of your current families, but consider extending any deadlines for discounts that you may have in place. Help parents see the value of what you offer and that your Christian school is what is needed now more than ever.
REGARDING NEW ADMISSIONS - While this may be a bit trickier than handling re-enrollment it is still wise to keep marketing to prospective families. If at all possible, have a dedicated phone number that is answered as calls come in and IS NOT automatically being sent to voice mail. Do not give the impression you are "closed down until further notice."
Consider offering one-on-one tours of the facility (if permitted) or Virtual Admission Tours through recorded or live video that includes various staff interviews or interactions.
If you have any pre-recorded videos such as "a day in the life at our school" or other school event videos, get these edited and immediately placed into a video montage on your website for interested families to view. You can even conduct live video tours by appointment through an assortment of video conferencing providers. Market these special opportunities to show your pro-active position on making new school enrollment for the upcoming year a priority. Always make sure to capture names and contact information of those who attend a Virtual Admissions Tour.
REGARDING FINANCIAL AID APPLICATIONS - Just because the school building has closed, school operations have not. Keep as much of your school business operations as normal looking as possible, including the accepting of tuition aid applications. Email current families reminders of deadlines and encourage new families to apply immediately. SchoolRIGHT and CFS operations are not impacted by COVID-19 and we will continue to process tuition aid applications for our school clients as they are submitted.
REGARDING SCHOOL BUDGET ADJUSTMENTS - As mentioned above, do not give into the temptation to be tossed into worry about the upcoming school year enrollment numbers. While it is wise to prepare various budget scenarios should there be further complications as the result of the current situation, remember the counsel of Scripture, "The heart of man plans his way, but the LORD establishes his steps" (Proverbs 16:9).
God is ALWAYS faithful. Have faith in what He will do through this, and trust in Him alone!
I hope this has been helpful. We would love to know if/how your school is proceeding with admissions during this time.