Coronavirus (COVID-19) Resource Centre for Private and Independent Schools

Our team is actively working to collect and share resources, best practices, and examples to help private and independent schools effectively manage marketing, communications and admissions during the COVID-19 outbreak. If you have a resource or example you’d like to share, please email please contact us.

Scroll down to see:

  1. Marketing & Admissions
  2. Marketing & Communications
  3. Moving your classroom online
  4. Family and School Learning Resources
  5. Technology & Tools
  6. Federal & provincial relief programs


ARTICLE [Our Kids]

Inside the COVID-19 response of Canada's private schools

As the COVID-19 crisis unfolds, schools across Canada are shut down. Yet, for many of the 328,000 private school students across the country, learning hasn't stopped.

WEBINAR [Our Kids]

Moving your classroom online

Watch our webinar recording for insights and ideas on how to transition to online learning quickly, efficiently, and effectively.

RESOURCE [Microsoft]

Making the transition to remote learning

To help schools make the transition to distance learning, Microsoft created resources, training and how-to guides that will help  support  IT, educators, staff and students as they make this transition to virtual learning.

1. Marketing & Admissions

The common phrase “if I can get the family to visit my school, I can get them to enroll” no longer works during the COVID-19 pandemic. So what happens now, when they can’t get to campus?

Prospective families are going to be turning to online sources, such as your website and any other information they can find online, particularly, to determine what they should do next. For prospective families, your approach to how you handle this crisis can have a significant impact on how a family perceives your school.

4 Tips for Successful Virtual Admissions

Tip 1 - Website homepage:

Add a message on your homepage letting families know your ‘virtual’ admissions office is open and how to contact you. For example, Brentwood College School makes it clear their Admissions Office is closed on their homepage and new virtual content on their admissions page.

Tip 2 - Virtual admission page:

Update the admissions section of your website or direct to a new ‘virtual admissions’ hub. Although you’re creating this as a result of the current situation, it definitely makes sense to consider a "virtual visit" page not just a short-term solution, but a long-term strategy to reach more families. Branksome Hall did a great job by including important messages, FAQs and links to resources and virtual learning support.

What to include:

  • Make it clear your admission office is open ‘virtually’
  • Remove focus on in-person visits and direct families to any virtual events you have. Otherwise, encourage families to schedule a video call with you
  • Add a virtual tour video or photo gallery tour
  • Create a frequently asked questions section for parents, either on your website or through a Librus-type communication platform

Remind parents, campers and camp staff their health and safety is the highest priority and that you’re planning for summer to begin as planned (if that is in fact the case). And remember to thank them for their support during this uncertain time.

Tip 3 - Technology:

Make use of available technology. Allow families to easily schedule a virtual meeting with you through calendar tools such as calendly or picktime and allow them to choose which form of communication they are most comfortable with: Skype, Zoom, WebEx, Google Hangouts or Gruveo.

Tip 4 - Testimonials:

The authentic perspectives of your current community will play a key role in enrollment and re-enrollment. Now is a great time to add testimonials and reviews to your Our Kids school profile and the Our Kids Review Hub .

2. Marketing & Communications

Now more than ever, It’s important to keep the channels of communication with both current and potential parents open. The parents need to feel that the school is ‘in control ‘ and knows what it’s doing, as well as who to turn to for answers or help.

Here are some best practices for marketing and communications during the coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic.

Current Parents

1. Be transparent
Send currently enrolled families mailing about the current situation & how the school is reacting and organizing its work, information about your distance learning plan, along with how & where they can reach the school or get help with virtual learning when needed.

2. Continue with schedules where possible
Continue with your regular communications schedules where possible, or add to them to stay in close contact with families. Some schools are sending an abridged form of their weekly newsletter/bulletin to families via email and post it online with a link. The Sacred Heart School of Montreal shared their Head of School’s message on their Our Kids profile and Our Kids Newsfeed.

Prospective Parents

1. Showcase your remote learning activities
For prospective families, your approach to how you handle this crisis can have a significant impact on how a family perceives your school. If you’re offering remote learning, share highlights of the best with prospective parents via email, social media and your third-party partners.

We’ve created a few feature articles to highlight how schools Canada and the US are managing the crisis and have quickly turned to effective online distance learning.

The agility demonstrated by the quick, multi-layered response of non-public schools is emblematic of other, more fundamental characteristics of what you offer: committed, motivated staff; freedom to innovate on the fly; and an unwavering sense of accountability to key stakeholders such as your students and their parents.

2. Be seen where parents are
Leverage trusted third-party outlets you know parents turn to to further share your school brand and messaging. Update (or create) your school profile on -Canada's #1 school-choice platform used by all families researching and considering a private school. It also allows for parents to easily compare different schools due to the way that all school information is organized in consistent categories.

During this uncertain and financially difficult time, families will be looking for school information outside of just your own website, and is consistently returns as a #1 source of information in Google searches.

3. Review your messaging
Double-check your messaging, visuals and tone. It’s a difficult time for everyone. Speak with more empathy and sincerity, and avoid the extremes of being too light-hearted or too scarcity-driven.

Also look at the images you’re using. Professional videos and images of crowds seem out of place and almost offensive in a world where most people are physically distancing. Sharing ‘memories’ is one way to showcase ‘regular’ school through photos or videos. Shawnigan Lake School does a great job sharing a variety of messages through their facebook page.

4. Focus on target audience expansion
Focus your marketing on audience expansion within your target. Now is an ideal time to grow your list. People are in information harvesting mode right now, because when uncertainty blends with spare time, what else are we left to do? So, now is not the time to slow your marketing efforts. Now is the time to tweak those marketing efforts to be even more visible than you might have been before.

Example of school messaging

It’s important to continue communicating with both prospective and current families. Keep up your daily facebook and instagram posts and send information through email. Use video where possible to make your message more personable.

Hashtags are a great way to aggregate content during the normal school year — and now that students and faculty are remote, it can be a great way to provide a sense of community. Schools around the world are coming up with unique hashtags to keep their community in the loop and connected during this time.

Keep families up to date with closures, schedules, programs

Positive messages to keep spirits high

Provide tips for at-home learning

Showcase the e-learning experiences of other students, families, and faculty.

Use video

Encourage your community to share photos and videos

Photos and videos of teachers, staff and students


3. Moving your classroom online

Quickly get started with tools to connect remotely and engage your students in Office 365.

The ultimate cheat sheet right at your fingertips. Download the Microsoft Teams quick start guide for EDU.

These are brilliant: webinars designed for educators on how to get started with Teams.

Family learning
Free training for creating your online classroom in Office 365. Get started. Visit the Family Learning Center for a collection of free family-led educational activities.

4. Family and School Learning Resources

During the COVID-19 pandemic, students and families may wish to access online resources to engage in self-directed learning from home. Here are some resources we hope you find helpful.

our kidsVirtual exercises? Cooking online? Programming a robot remotely? These are just a few of the activities camps across Canada are offering to kids and teens. Find a fun virtual activity that creatively fosters engagement, growth, and learning during this challenging time. Browse free and paid options by activity, age and cost here.

1. Lessons, courses and lectures for beginners:

  • Khan Academy
  • CK-12 Foundation
  • Mathematics is everywhere.
  • AMU Film Archive
  • Matemax
  • SciFun (YouTube)
  • Attention Scientific Babble (YouTube)
  • Science. I like it (YouTube)
  • Journal of Visualized Experiments (JoVE)
  • Pi-station math
  • Crazy Numbers

2. Lessons, courses and online studies in foreign languages ​​and for more advanced students:

  • edX
  • Coursera
  • Skillshare

3. Language learning:

  • Memrise
  • Busuu
  • Fleex
  • Olive Green
  • engVid
  • Duolingo
  • Mango Languages

4. Online resources:

  • Project Gutenberg ( - an initiative of placing electronic versions of books on the internet
  • Habitify, HabitBull - may prove to be good support in building habits related to functioning at home in the hours when we should normally be at school.
  • Forest application - allows you to focus and not use the phone
  • OpenAGH
  • Free Reading
  • Polona
  • (online board games)

Programming, computer science:

  • CodeCombat - a game where children can start their coding adventure
  • Kinetise
  • Khan Academy - here you will find a special module called "Coding time", which is intended for children

Museums, Zoo’s and art galleries:


5. Technology & Tools

To support the transition to virtual environments, Microsoft—with whom Our Kids has recently partnered—has developed a frankly impressive suite of resources. Although the tools were originally designed with schools in mind, they can work well for camps and programs.

camp covid updates
  • Microsoft Teams
    Teams is a virtual meeting platform that enables group discussion, collaboration, and program delivery. Online sessions can also include everything from group crafting activities, to counsellor training, to virtual classrooms.

  • Distance learning hub
    Microsoft has created detailed interfaces to ease and support the transition, including a quick start guide, best practicas and a useful guide for parents. On-demand webinar training also available here.

  • Shifting to distance learning - A 5 day guide
    This three-phase approach will help you shift to this secure and inclusive online environment that protects the data of the entire camp community.

Best Video Conferencing Software
Review and ratings of the best free and paid video conferencing solutions for a multitude of use cases. Some of the products listed are great for 1-1 conversations, some for teams or lessons, and others for live broadcasts.

The 12 Best Team Chat Apps
Team chat is similar to email, but its main benefit is that it keeps all your company’s communications in one place, making it easier for everyone to talk together with group or private chats. Here’s a the pros and cons of 12 popular apps.

TUIO is an educational fee management solution for schools, daycares, camps and other types of scholastic facilities. No more spreadsheets. No more post-its. No more visits to the bank to deposit cheques (a hidden cost). No more awkward talks regarding NSFs with the parents. TUIO gives you the freedom and flexibility to bill families without the hassle.

GST/HST Remittances Deferral

Allowing businesses, including self-employed individuals, to defer until June 30, 2020 payments of the GST/HST.

For more information, please consult this link:

Business Income Tax Deferral

Allowing all businesses to defer, until after August 31, 2020, the payment of any income tax amounts that become owing on or after March 18 and before September 2020. This relief would apply to tax balances due, as well as instalments, under Part I of the Income Tax Act.

For more information, please consult this link:

Work-Sharing Program Extension

This program is a three-party agreement involving employers, employees and Service Canada. It is designed to curb employee layoffs when normal business activity is temporarily interrupted through no direct control of the employer.

The Work-Sharing program is offered to workers who agree to reduce their normal working hours and agree to share the available work over a specified period of time.

For more information, please consult this link:

Temporary (10 percent) Wage Subsidy for Employers

On March 18, 2020, Prime Minister Trudeau announced a temporary 10 percent wage subsidy. This wage subsidy allows organizations to obtain up to 10% of payroll costs incurred between March 18th, 2020 and June 19th, 2020.

Eligible employers would be able to access the Temporary Wage Subsidy by applying through a Canada Revenue Agency online portal.

For more information, please consult this link:

The Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy

The Government of Canada has introduced the new Canada Emergency Wage Subsidy (CEWS) measure. Retroactive to March 15, 2020, it is intended to cover 75 percent of salaries for qualifying businesses, including charities of all sizes, for up to 3 months.

For more information, please consult this link:

Canadian Emergency Response Benefit

TTo support employees impacted by COVID-19, the Canada Emergency Response Benefit (CERB) will provide $2,000 per month for a period of up to four months.

For more information, please consult this link:

Canada Emergency Business Account – Business Credit

All organizations with 2019 payrolls between $50,000 and $1 million in total will be eligible for interest-free loans of up to $40,000 to help cover their operating costs during a period where their revenues have been temporarily reduced. 25% of the loan (up to $10,000) will be forgiven if the loan is repaid by December 31, 2022.

For more information, please consult this link:

Province-specific relief programs


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