As a statistician, OF COURSE, I chose Coming to Terms with Uncertainty as a most important secret to crisis communications. As a statistics teacher, I know that uncertainty is a very difficult concept for students to fully understand. So, it stands to reason that it would be a challenge when communicating with the public in an outbreak crisis.
Especially in a crisis, people expect to be told information with certainty, not uncertainty. Being able to communicate clearly information about risks and uncertainties that exist will be paramount. Here is my list of considerations for anyone communicating information to the public during an outbreak:
- consider multiple information sources
- consider information in its context
- consider different uses of information
- advance scientific knowledge
- advise crisis responders
- inform public
- consider any limitations of information (political, social, etc.)
- consider underlying mathematical model basis for information
The point can be made that teachers have a role similar to journalists in providing information and mitigating psychological effects in such crisis situations.
"Teachers have the potential to serve as the models for resiliency and the harboring of hope for our children. In the beginning they will be there to quell their fears, and in the end they will be there to pick up the pieces." ~Betty Kirby, Assistant Professor, Department of Educational Administration and Community Leadership, Central Michigan University