Since the beginning of this pandemic, we’ve done our best here at TUIO to provide you with timely and helpful information and tips about how to survive in this unprecedented environment (our cash crunch survival article and tips for distance learning are now among some of the most read on this blog; we’ve also published an article on the government support that may be available to your school or daycare.
With states and countries in North America looking to relax their shutdown rules, an increasing number of schools are reaching out to enquire about setting up online payments. Indeed, now is the time to start thinking about the ‘new normal’, which will be in place until at least a vaccine/cure is made widely available. But beyond a cure, there is little doubt that COVID-19 will leave long-lasting marks on the way education is delivered to our children; just like with any major events in human history, there will be a ‘before’ and ‘after’. And for good reasons: there are thousands of coronaviruses (more than 3,000 types in bats species alone) and at the rate they are popping up, the odds of temporary mandated school closures in future years are not insignificant.
Does this mean that you should give up and move on to another occupation? No, because this will anyways have an impact on all businesses (except, perhaps, Amazon, which seems to be thriving in any environment). What you should do, instead, is be prepared. There will be opportunities and rewards for the schools and daycares who can adapt. Here are a couple ways you can:
1. Incorporate some online/remote learning throughout your curriculum
If you are not inclined to use technology inside or outside the classroom, you may be rolling your eyes as you read this. In the past few weeks, online learning (or lack thereof) has received a lot of attention. But in a new reality where classrooms may be disrupted, infrequently but for months at a time, it may be time to make amends with your beloved computer so you have a backup plan. After all, children’s learning cannot stop for such extended periods of time.
At TUIO, we are firm believers that brick-and-mortar schools and daycares are not going anywhere – there are benefits to homeschooling, but children socializing with peers will remain an important piece of their growth.
All-online schools will certainly do well in a post-COVID19 world (they were already doing well before), but so will ‘hybrid’ and ‘blended’ programs.
In our view, these programs, which mix some offline and some online components, are the best bet for traditional schools to embrace. You will not need to reinvent the wheel, but you will allocate more time and resources toward developing online capabilities. When trouble hits, you will be able to build upon your online components to support your operations and even go fully remote. Some of our customers are following this approach; they are the only ones in the market who have been able to continue to teach and collect fees during the pandemic, which put them at very little risk of becoming financially unsustainable.
So if you haven’t yet, we urge you to build up your online capabilities. Compliance with this point after this pandemic abates will be paid manyfolds the next time something similar comes.
2. Move most of your enrollment and payments online
Schools and daycare centers are considered essential services in most jurisdictions, meaning that they will be some of the first to reopen, while conditions are improving but not yet optimal.
While children are luckily less likely to be affected critically by COVID19, the same cannot be said of their parents.
In this environment, it will be poignant for organizations to be able to accept both enrollments and payments remotely. When even supermarkets do not accept bank notes, now is not the time to get paid with cash or cheques.
Sure, in normal circumstances, it may be nice to do those things in person – but you will need to have remote capabilities ready for times like this.
Of course, it is no secret that this is our area of expertise.
To put things in perspective, here are 3 benefits that have served TUIO’s customers over the last few weeks, other than the obvious ability to receive payments remotely:
- Temporarily have their invoices put on hold without deleting them: can be done while they are waiting to hear the decisions of our political and health & safety actors – up until the very minute before the invoice is due to process.
- Modify issue dates, due dates, amounts, invoice names and more: want to transform that monthly tuition invoice of $1,000 due on the 1st of the month to a $250 invoice due on the following 23rd when your organization is supposed to reopen? No problem! And if by the 23rd the situation has evolved adversely, you can continue to make edits until the last minute.
- while the rest of this school year is up in the air, there is no reason to stop, suspend or cancel enrolment/re-enrolment for families who want and are able to pay down a deposit in order to secure their spot. Whatever comes our way in the short term, it is important that you maintain healthy perspectives for your businesses in the medium term, and that means continuing to replenish your student population.
There are many reasons why you may, from time to time, consider a new service or solution for your families, but a pandemic is not usually one of them.
However, we believe that the perfect storm currently taking place can be a catalyst to modernize your school or daycare, by embracing, as we have advocated, both distance learning and remote online payments.
It will not only increase chances of survival, it will also make your organization stronger and ready for the kind of events that the 21st century seems to be brewing.
We sadly cannot help you with building a remote/blended curriculum (but Google has many resources on the topic..). What we can do, however, is to help you solve for your other strategic priority, namely deploying an online payment solution specifically designed for the challenges of the education sector. We’re friendly, we’re widely used and have many glowing testimonials, but best of all, our product demo video simply sits on Youtube and you can watch it on your own schedule 🙂.