COVID-19 Confusion Prompts New Communications Strategy at GECDSB


In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Greater Essex County District School Board is looking to improve the way it communicates with its students and parents.

Trustees have approved a proposal from the COVID Communications Strategy Committee which calls for a revamp of the board's website and the hiring of an additional staff member to better engage and inform the public via social media.

Trustee Sarah Cipkar was part of the committee and says a proper ecosystem for communication doesn't currently exist.

"Some of the needs of the community have significantly changed over the last decade and then have been completely exacerbated by COVID with the move online," she says. "Our staff were feeling really overwhelmed with the level of communication that's required."

Cipkar says how staff handle communication needs to be reinvented.

"Staff are so stretched right now and we've had some significant issues over the last few weeks because no one could have predicted technical glitches right before the reopening," she says. "I say all this not to solve all of our problems, but really to resource our staff in a better way."


Greater Essex County District School Board trustee Alicia Higgison seen on September 22, 2020 (Photo courtesy of the Greater Essex County District School Board)

Trustee Alicia Higgison was also part of the committee and says these are unique times and the board needs to adjust.

"This is a start to make sure that we honour the needs of all of our learners, of all of our families and of all of our community members who are experiencing their education in really different ways and to really support the very unique circumstances that we're all finding ourselves, our staff included."

The cost to hire a new communications staff member has not yet been determined. 

The website overhaul is expected to cost between $300,000 and $350,000 which will be funded over the next two to three years. 

The current website was not designed to be accessed by smartphone, which is now the preferred method for most students and parents.