Academic Experience

5 challenges in getting back to school (and 5 ways to tackle them)

Find out how you can get back to school with feedback from families, students, and staff at the heart of the actions you take to ensure everyone feels safe, supported and ready to re-start education after the disruption from COVID-19

Some countries have already made tentative steps to getting children back to school, while others have favored a cautious approach, closing schools until the start of the next school year.

It’s been one of the most hotly debated policies of the COVID-19 response — when should students, educators and staff return to school, and how can it be done safely?

See the full back-to-school solutions

Add to that the governments keen to get children back to alleviate some of the pressure on families currently juggling working from home and childcare needs, and it’s easy to see why it’s such a critical decision point.

Back to school - Five new solutions available now

At Qualtrics we’ve launched five new solutions to help schools, their staff, and families and students as part of our Back to School package of pre-built solutions.

“Schools are telling us en masse that they’re looking to implement proactive measures, such as student and staff confidence pulses, symptom checking, contact tracing, and even testing so they can provide a safe experience and maintain public trust as they reopen,” said Omar Garriott, Global Industry Lead for Education at Qualtrics.

“We designed these solutions with their needs in mind. The data from these solutions is automatically analyzed and displayed in real-time through actionable, role-based dashboards that are easy to understand, so schools can quickly monitor the overall health of their institution, pinpoint hotspots, and take specific steps to ensure they’re maintaining a safe and responsive learning environment.”

“It is critical for our university to put the right public health measures in place to ensure the safe return of our faculty, staff, and students to our campuses this summer,” says Dr. Erin Kobetz, Vice Provost for Research at the University of Miami. “By helping us implement a self-certified symptom checking solution, and scaling our ongoing contact tracing initiative, Qualtrics is playing an important role in achieving this milestone.”

1. Are your staff ready to return?

The challenge

Like any workplace, schools, colleges and universities pose a risk to staff — particularly those with underlying health conditions or with vulnerable people in their immediate social circle. For some, the risk could be too much, and they may be unable to work for the time being, while for others, they may need extra reassurance that the measures in place will keep them, and their students, safe.

The solution: Return to Work (Faculty & Staff) Readiness

This expert-designed solution helps administrators assess how faculty and staff feel about coming back to the workplace by understanding their health and safety needs, communication preferences, and readiness to return. It’s designed to help you take the right actions to reassure your staff, and understand how your staff numbers are likely to be impacted by any changes you make.

Learn more about Return to Work (Faculty & Staff) Readiness

2. Listen to the entire student population

The challenge

Understanding how a large body of students feels about returning to school can be difficult — particularly given their geographic spread, and the fact that right now, campuses are closed. So colleges and universities need to look to digital feedback channels to listen to the voice of their students and understand what they need to do to support them as they return to campus.

The solution: Digital Open Door

This solution enables students, prospects, or alumni to share feedback across a host of different web and mobile touchpoints. This solution enables open, two-way communication between students and staff, helping schools provide better support and communication while also preparing to reopen campuses.

More about Digital Open Door

3. Understanding families’ and students’ needs

The challenge

For families, the decision to send their children back to school is a difficult one. We’ve already seen in countries where schools are partially reopened that the parent population is split — some are confident enough to send their children back, while others remain very cautious, often due to factors at home such as having a vulnerable person in the household. It’s vital therefore that schools understand how families feel, and why. Just because schools are allowed to open, it doesn’t mean every parent will be comfortable, so schools need to keep a pulse on sentiment as the situation continues to evolve.

The solution: Student/Family Confidence Pulse

As schools and universities begin reopening, this solution helps administrators keep a continual pulse on the needs and preferences of families and guardians, and adapt by taking the right actions based on ever-changing circumstances.

More about the Student/Family Confidence Pulse

4. Tracking symptoms and risk exposure

The challenge

When schools do re-open, they’ll need to keep detailed records on the health of staff and students. This is primarily done through self-certification, due to the lack of available testing and practicalities of rolling out mass testing programs for every school. We’ve already seen health authorities and local governments use Qualtrics to do this, like the City Of Houston, where Qualtrics is used as part of its symptom tracking efforts.

The solution: Symptom Tracking

Built in line with current CDC guidelines and by a team of physicians, this solution asks respondents to report symptoms, recent travel, and exposure to people with COVID-19. Respondents and students’ families receive an automated notification, aligned to CDC and WHO guidelines, indicating if and when they may return to campus. Schools can also provide a Testing option with this solution to help individuals schedule appointments to get tested and view their results.

More about symptom tracking

5. Contact tracing and testing guidance

The challenge

A key factor in keeping students, educators, and communities safe is effective contact tracing. When someone tests positive for COVID-19, tracking down all who have been in close contact with the positive case in a timely manner is critical to mitigating spread.

The solution: Confidential tracing

This solution provides institutions with a confidential tracing solution in an automated environment. Through an opt-in platform, the solution asks individuals who have tested positive and/or are at high risk of contracting COVID-19 to confidentially upload contacts and locations with whom they have come into contact. The solution automatically notifies impacted individuals and instructs them on next steps so they can take the appropriate safety measures while maintaining individual confidentiality. The solution does not use automatic location tracking.

All these solutions are built on the Qualtrics XM Platform™, which maintains the highest security certifications including ISO 27001 and FedRAMP. Qualtrics is also HITRUST certified, which means its technology platform provides customers the tools they need to manage HIPAA compliance.


Learn more about Qualtrics COVID-19 solutions available for K-12 and higher education