Advice for navigating COVID restrictions as we return to face-to-face training events.
An empty stadium for Trump’s Oklahoma rally is amusing to many of us, but it’s not the scene training providers want to be greeted with when returning to the classroom. And while TikTok teens probably won’t be plotting against you, returning to face-to-face events in a post-COVID world will certainly come with its own challenges. There are government guidelines to adhere to, many people are still working from home and have become accustomed to virtual delivery, and some will have anxiety about re-entering public spaces.
So how do we safely navigate the return to face-to-face and ease the concerns of our customers?
Some governments, such as UK and NZ (and some states in USA, Canada and Australia), are beginning to give the green light to return to face-to-face training, so long as social distancing is adhered to and reasonable health and safety measures are put in place. Most of the guidelines are common sense, and require people to weigh up the risks – and the trouble, time and money needed to control them.
For some training providers, that may mean that now is not the right time to return to face-to-face. The risks and costs may be too high, trainers may have underlying health conditions that mean they can’t deliver face-to-face courses, and travel restrictions may be too limiting. And if you’ve been successfully delivering your courses virtually, and it hasn’t affected the number of attendees or business revenue, then maybe a return to face-to-face is further down the road for you.
But if you’ve made the ultimate decision to return to the classroom, we’ve pulled together some guidance to help you proceed safely. This key advice is rounded-up from government guidelines, as well as from our Arlo training providers who are completing their own risk assessments in preparation for their return.
Health and well-being
- Remind attendees that they must not attend the course if they have any signs or symptoms of illness
- Be flexible with learning options (is there an option to attend via webinar if attendees feel uncomfortable in a face-to-face environment)
- Be flexible with refunds or rain-checks for those last-minute cancellations from attendees who feel unwell or unsafe to attend
- Equip trainers with thermometers to check attendees temperature on arrival
- Any signs of cough or runny nose, ask attendees to leave immediately and self isolate at home. Same goes for trainers showing symptoms
- Make hand sanitizer readily available, and regularly encourage it throughout the duration of the course
- Increase cleaning procedures and ensure that all desks and chairs and other surfaces are sanitized between classes
- Provide access to PPE, or encourage attendees to bring their own
- Trainers or attendees with underlying health issues encouraged to stay home
- All trainers and attendees must be 2 metres apart at all times
- One person in the lift at all times
- One in and one out for toilets
- Remove group-based activities from your curriculum
- Limit break times to discourage socialisation
- Limit carpark numbers to avoid congregation
- One person using tea/coffee/water stations at all times
Venue and classroom set-up
- Regular communication with attendees in the lead-up to the course to provide clear instructions and directions
- Increase signage on doors to guide people in the right direction and discourage the need for conversation or unnecessary movement
- Keep all venue doors open to eliminate the need to touch door handles
- Individual desks, tables and chairs only
- Arrange desks so that they are spaced two metres apart
- Avoid any shared materials, such as pens and paper
- Avoid hard copies of course materials
- Booklets and tests laid out prior to attendees arriving
- Ensure sufficient ventilation of rooms
- Encourage people to bring their own food and drink
- Remove refreshment station or use individual sachets of tea, coffee, sugar
- Use disposable cups, plates and cutlery for any food or drink
Contact tracing and logistics
- Contact tracing is a requirement, and the good news is that if you’re an Arlo customer the system already collects all the customer data you need for this
- Use Arlo for Mobile, for access to all attendee details and the ability to mark attendance and contact all attendees at short notice
- Registration limits can be set in Arlo, so you easily control attendance numbers
- Arlo has a waiting list feature, so if you have attendees pull-out last minute because of sickness, you can offer the spot to someone else
- You can quickly and easily send emails to all attendees to update them on any changes, request information or communicate processes and procedures
- You can manage course logistics and room set-up from within Arlo
- Use the system for managing tasks; for example, health and safety checklists
- If guidance suddenly change and another lockdown occurred, you can use Arlo to convert your existing face-to-face course to a webinar delivery and communicate it to your customers at a moment’s notice
While Trump’s empty stadium ensured an easy adherence to social distancing guidelines, it’s certainly not the turnout he’d hoped for. We’re confident that with proper procedures and management systems in place, the classrooms of our training providers will look a little more full than this as we return to face-to-face.