Covid-19

Mixed messages, but technology will guide us to recovery

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Susheel Dodeja
Head of Government and Public Sector

Josh Hewer
Technology Consultant

Boris Johnson’s announcement of 10 May intended to clearly outline the next stage in our recovery from the pandemic with a ‘conditional plan’. The message – or rather its initial delivery – did leave pockets of confusion, with an immediate call for clarity.  Subsequent advice at departmental level has however been much clearer, with conditions and intent outlined, and the ever-increasing use of technology playing a powerful tool to assist in guiding us through this road to recovery.

We’ve learnt that the ongoing response to the crisis from the Department for Education (DFE) will be to work towards primary schools reopening for Nursery, Reception, Year 1 and Year 6 by 1st June at the earliest. Meanwhile, secondary schools and colleges will look to provide students in Years 10 and 12 with more face-to-face time contact before the academic year is out. This will necessitate certain changes including reduced class sizes, staggering break times and of course enhanced cleaning activities.

Approaches such as ‘Flipped’ and ‘Blended’ learning have become the norm during lockdown, but further technology will be required in reducing the administrative overhead and complexity as we navigate our way through the coming weeks and months. When the educational institutions closed their physical doors, the act was swiftly executed.  The transition towards classroom-based learning will take a lot longer and the gradual journey is one that needs to be taken with greater caution and assistance. 

Communicating and managing teacher’s rosters, timetables, and ensuring schools and educational institutions are ‘COVID safe’, will all be essential and will need to ensure compliance with government guidelines.  Automation and digital assistance will play a crucial part in reducing burden and ensure a consistent message is relayed.

Further advice from Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) also highlights the complex response at a municipal level. Councils websites and customer service teams will certainly be overwhelmed by local residents seeking support, clarity and answers as the plan matures. Digital assistance and workflow management in particular will be essential for council workers to manage this increased and complex demand.

Councils have however been given comprehensive guidance from Housing to Homelessness. Specific notices have included deferring Business Rates, grants to support local business, parks re-opening and supporting PPE distribution and testing activities. Communicating to local citizens and businesses will be essential. And, much like educational institutes, support for workforce deployment will be essential. With reduced or impaired staff, harnessing real-time data can support the gambit of municipal services, for scalable resource deployment based on staff levels and service demand.

So although the initial message lacked some much needed clarity, the departments have been quite the opposite with their outline of intent.  Careful monitoring of the Rate of Infection (R) is central to the execution of these plans, therefore necessitating the need to pivot, change and course correct without minimal impact is paramount.

As we all continue to live through these times BJSS will continue to be monitoring and sharing our views on how departments and the wider public sector will be responding during the recovery phase. Visit our Covid-19 site to explore how we help organisations to respond to the Coronavirus.