3 Stories of Resilience in Education During the Pandemic

By Justin Bryant | March 16, 2021 | , | Education

In the most challenging time in the history of education, stories of resilience and success are a breath of fresh air. School districts, colleges, and universities throughout the U.S. have been laser focused on safety, continuity of learning, holistic student support, and so much more.

We’ve seen the education community come together in a spectacular way to collaborate, share best practices, strategize, and lend a helping hand when needed. Their success is incredible and deserves to be celebrated.

Below are three examples of institutions that have met the multitude of pandemic-related challenges head-on, and, with the help of Salesforce’s Education Cloud, have been resilient in their missions to serve, support, and educate their student bodies, faculty and staff, and surrounding communities.

Students studying in on-campus library

Schools throughout the U.S. have been focused on safety, continuity of learning, and holistic student support.

Oakland Unified School District

Oakland Unified School District (OUSD) is dedicated to building a full-service community district serving about 36,000 students across 81 schools. The district integrates powerful instruction with much needed support and services — from counseling and mental health to food and shelter — to ensure students have what they need to thrive.

Connecting students with these comprehensive services is critical work, especially in an environment turned upside down by the COVID-19 pandemic. OUSD uses Salesforce to collaboratively triage individual student needs, provide support services, and track outcomes.

Streamlining processes and automating manual tracking and follow-up enables the OUSD team to directly improve the lives of students by reducing the amount of time it takes to connect them with services. Staff can keep connecting students with services even during school closures.

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University of Kentucky

The coronavirus global pandemic disrupted life for everyone. While the University of Kentucky (UK) was no exception, their ability to quickly and seamlessly transition to remote learning mid-semester during the spring of 2020 while maintaining high levels of transparent communications with its community was impressive. Planning for the upcoming fall semester, however, brought a broadened set of issues and challenges to the forefront.

To solve this challenge of balancing safety and delivering the expected, on-campus experience, UK’s leaders created a task force involving more than 500 people spanning 19 workstreams. After three months of intense research and collaboration, the task force delivered a 187-page “Playbook for Reinvented Operations” which outlined all impending operational changes, with COVID-19 testing identified as paramount to their strategy.

Work.com for Education Cloud was selected as the technology to support the tracking of daily symptom checks and assessments. With Work.com, UK quickly innovated to create:

  • Testing and reporting App so all students can document self-tests and are prompted to take action if experiencing any symptoms consistent with COVID-19 
  • Workplace Command Center to monitor return-to-campus readiness and assess people’s wellness
  • Emergency Response Management so everyone is prepared to respond effectively and quickly to all scenarios 
  • Contact Tracing for tracking health-related interactions to safely and securely minimize the spread of COVID-19 

University of Kentucky President Dr. Eli Capilouto sees this not just as a solution to get through the pandemic, but as a long-term investment for the university to come out on the other side stronger, using the platform as a springboard for a healthier community, a tool to support student mental health and well-being, and a model to prepare for the next crisis.

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Indiana University

Indiana University (IU) was already using Salesforce prior to the pandemic. However, when COVID-19 swept across the country last spring, the enterprise CRM Team in University Information Technology Services was tasked with building a comprehensive Contact Tracing solution for all 9 of Indiana University’s campus locations.

Because Salesforce was already in place, it took the team only 72 hours from task assignment to having the first iteration of the build complete for review. All COVID-19 test results are tracked and managed in Salesforce, as well as records of virtual visit symptom assessments from IU Health. There are escalation protocols for the CRM Cases and IU heavily uses CRM case email for direct communication.

All of this is also used to trigger a number of other operational processes. Based on Contact Tracing data, university quarantine and isolation processes are triggered and various information is recorded. IU also created list views in Salesforce for potentially exposed university locations where their facilities operations monitor to engage their advanced cleaning processes.

The pandemic allowed IU to shift from a decentralized model to a centralized marketing model, where the flagship campus built a highly dynamic and personalized series of communications for all 9 campuses to use. This kept reopening and pandemic response messaging consistent, on-brand, and accurate.

Looking forward, IU is deploying a solution that tracks vaccination series. This has been built to accommodate any vaccination or immunization but the initial focus is on COVID-19. The IU Vaccinations solution interacts with the Contact Tracing solution and others, impacting the interviews conducted and duration, release date, and nurse engagement processes.

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Learn more about how Salesforce can help you reopen your education institution safely.


About the Author

Justin Bryant, Senior Marketing Manager, Higher Education at Salesforce.org

Justin Bryant amplifies customer storytelling at Salesforce.org as Senior Manager of Customer Marketing for Education Cloud. In his nearly 10 years at Salesforce.org, he’s worked to help spotlight incredible stories of transformation at events, such as Education Summit, Dreamforce, and more.