How Colleges Can Serve Students During COVID-19 Pandemic

How Colleges Can Serve Students

The world is much different today than it was in 2019, and college campuses are rapidly closing their doors in response to the COVID-19 mandates by federal and state authorities to help stop the spread of the novel coronavirus.

However, just because campuses are shutting down classes doesn’t mean that all students have somewhere to go. In fact, NPR reports that many students are stranded on campuses with nowhere to go. And just because classes are canceled, doesn’t mean that they stop needing their basic needs like food and living amenities. 

Fortunately, some colleges and universities are already adjusting operations to meet the needs of their students in this time of crisis. Here is what you can do as a leader in higher education auxiliary service to meet the demand of students amidst the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Make Mobile Ordering Available to Everyone

With retail giants like Amazon Fresh and Walmart Grocery, and grocers across the nation buckling to keep up with the growing demand, college campuses have an opportunity to take care of their own. 

Vanderbilt University, for example, is using its Touchwork OrderIT solution to expand its mobile ordering solution to all students remaining on campus in isolation. While the dining halls must remain closed to observe the limited gathering size ordinances in place, students can still order their meals, which are then delivered right to their rooms. Another option is to pre-order meals and then pick them up at a predesignated location. 

The OrderIT solution was originally designed to help dining facilities better meet the needs of its students with allergies so that they could special order their meals. The solution is proving far more robust and capable of being able to easily expand mobile ordering on a larger scale. 

Colleges can send a mass communication inviting students to opt-in for the service from their mobile devices, whereby they can order meals in real-time or preorder for a future time. Menus can be fixed or rotating according to the discretion of dining facilities. 

In challenging times like these, having the capability to make mobile ordering available is crucial to the well-being of staff and students.

Better and Real-Time Communications

Being on a college campus during a pandemic and isolation orders isn’t easy for anyone, especially students who feel stuck and if resource personnel on campus are sparse. Who are they supposed to talk to if they have a question or encounter an issue?

Making real-time feedback solutions available is a helpful tool on a normal day, but during a crisis, it is especially helpful. 

Colleges and universities can make sure they have a system in place whereby students can text their questions or issues to a single number that will then get routed to the appropriate staff members – no matter where they are – so student concerns and needs can be responded to as soon as possible. 

Touchwork’s TxtandTell solution makes this capability quick and easy. As long as students know which number to text with the help of signage and campus-wide communications, they and your staff will be able to interact with each other quickly and effectively. 

In terms of mass communications to your student about COVID-19, emails may simply not be adequate. Colleges and universities are going to want to make sure students and staff are getting all the most up-to-date information about COVID-19 and your response. Text alerts, voice API, and app alerts are all must-have means of communication in addition to your standard email communications methods. 

Monitor Critical Operations

Lastly, in this current state of campus lockdowns, monitoring your critical operations while your staff may be away or on reduced hours just makes sense. Monitoring refrigerator and freezer temperatures to ensure the invaluable food you have on-campus keeps through this time is something colleges and universities can accomplish with a monitoring solution like MonitorIT. 

It is one of Touchwork’s newest solutions and allows you to keep a device in your freezer and coolers to monitor temperatures. If they go above where they need to be, the staff is instantly alerted. It’s just one more way colleges and universities can manage operations while they are handling the COVID-19 response and are understaffed as it is. 

These are new and unusual times everyone is learning to navigate as they go. While the uncertainty is unsettling, we do know that being poised to communicate effectively and respond quickly and efficiently is critical to easing panic, meeting needs, and adjusting appropriately for the future. May you all stay safe and happy as we get through this pandemic together.

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About the author

Johann Leitner is the founder and president of Touchwork, a marketing management software company.