In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, NAIS heads of school and their boards must face unknown challenges that make an effective partnership more important than ever. Trust, respect, and clear communication are critical to navigate this landscape effectively. While the immediate needs of the school are at the forefront of decision-making, school leaders and trustees also must engage in strategic planning and generative thinking to ensure future sustainability.
When managing a crisis of this magnitude, it is helpful to turn to the school’s mission, vision, and values as guideposts to both short- and long-term decision-making. This is a real test of the validity of a school’s M/V/V. While strategic and operational considerations shift depending on context, these statements should be enduring. If they don’t fit these unprecedented times, this is an opportunity to rethink them.
In times like these, school leaders must draw the community together by being role models themselves, remaining both flexible and agile. Providing clear, factual, and transparent communication to stakeholders, demonstrating compassion for students and families, and understanding that in this moment, there may not be a right decision, only the best one for these extraordinary circumstances. We will continue to curate resources to support heads and trustees in the areas of leadership and governance, as these are the cornerstones to school viability in a post-pandemic world.
Please note: The following links and content are for informational purposes only, and do not constitute legal, medical, or other professional advice. The opinions expressed in these resources are those of their respective author(s), and do not necessarily reflect NAIS positions or policies. NAIS does not endorse, promote, or guarantee any products or services referenced in these resources.
- NAIS Sharing Solutions: This new site is designed to harness the spirit of collaboration and to gather helpful resources in one easy-to-access forum. Schools can submit tips, strategy summaries, videos, stories, sample plans, or anything you think might spark an idea for another independent school colleague. There is a section devoted to leading and governing in a crisis.
- McKinsey: Leadership in a crisis: Responding to the coronavirus outbreak and future challenges
- Harvard Graduate School of Education: Providing Stability in a Time of Crisis
- NAIS Independent Ideas blog: A Conversation: 3 Heads Discuss Their Decision-Making Process Amid Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- 20 Degrees: Coronavirus Advice for Nonprofit Leaders
- BoardSource: Leading an Organization Through the COVID-19 Crisis
- Harvard Business Review: You're Not Powerless in the Face of Uncertainty
- NAIS Independent Ideas blog: Managing Remote School Teams: Establishing a Foundation to Build Trust
- The New York Times: We Need Great Leadership Now, and Here’s What It Looks Like
- Global Online Academy: The New Normal: Five Insights from GOA's COVID-19 Leadership Roundtable
- NeuroLeadership Institute Impact Report: Growth Mindset Supports Organizations Through Disruption
- Harvard Business Review: Good Leadership Is About Communicating “Why”
The Role of the Board
- BoardSource: The Role of the CEO and Board Chair During Crisis
- Wickenden: Boards Supporting Heads in a Crisis
- National Council for Nonprofits: Nonprofits and Coronavirus, COVID-19
- NAIS Resource: Board Meetings: Moving from Face-to-Face to Virtual
- BoardSource: What Nonprofit Board Members Should Be Doing Right Now to Address the COVID-19 Situation
- BoardSource: How to Build a Culture of Inquiry During the COVID-19 Crisis
- Greenwich Leadership Partners: Boards: What Will You Do if Your Leader Falls Ill?
- BoardSource: Engaging Your Board as You Navigate COVID-19
- McKinsey: Boards in the time of coronavirus
- McKinsey: Boards of directors in the tunnel of the coronavirus crisis
- BoardSource: Partnership in a Time of Pandemic: The CEO and the Board
- BoardSource: Tapping into the Strength of Your Board: A Prescription for Difficult Times
- BoardSource: Scenario Planning: Rapid Planning in a Time of Rapid Change
- The Enrollment Management Association: Questions That Boards Should and Should Not Be Asking Right Now
- Harvard Business Review: How to Do Strategic Planning Like a Futurist
Finance and Fundraising
- BoardSource: Fundraising and Your Board During a Pandemic: Lean into the trends
- Nonprofit Quarterly: Sustainability to Survivability: 5 Nonprofit Finance Must-Do’s in the Time of COVID
- AFP Global: Coronavirus/COVID-19 Resource Guide
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Fundraising During the Coronavirus
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: What We Have Learned From Crises and Can Use in Coronavirus Age
- Net Assets: Digitally Communicating Your School’s Value
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Ask an Expert: Should Fundraisers Talk About Planned Giving During the Crisis?
- Board Source: Crisis Communications: Four Things Your Board Needs to Know
- NAIS Trustee Table Podcast: Mastering Crisis Management: How to Stay Ahead of the Curve on Apple Podcasts
- The Chronicle of Philanthropy: Checklist: 10 Tips for a Better Crisis Communications Strategy