Multifamily Housing Tips for Back to School During COVID

As strange as last school year may have been, the shelves lined with color crayons and themed binders can only mean one thing: the school year preparation is in full swing. Whether your area is focusing on virtual learning, in-person schooling, or a mix of the two, there’s no denying that this school year will come with some new challenges. 

If you own or manage a multifamily home, there are some policies and procedures you can easily implement that will make this year a little smoother for your residents and staff.

Ensure Optimized Sanitation Practices for Common Areas:

Hopefully, your maintenance crew has already implemented a plan to regularly clean and disinfect high-touch areas. Additional attention to cleansing front doors, stair rails, and other high-touch areas within shared spaces should already be part of your plan. If it isn’t currently, now is the time to add it to your list now that school-aged children may be coming in-and-out more frequently as they go to or leave from school. If your property does not have automatic doors and climate allows, it may be prudent to simply keep doors open during these high-traffic hours. This will mitigate the cost and effort of constantly wiping these germ-harboring spots.

Bus Stop Safety:

If your property serves as a bus stop, be sure to take additional safety measures. After a long interlude between the school year, and after some students were simply learning from home, residents may not be on the lookout for school-bound children near the roads and parking areas. Crossing signs can serve to remind residents to keep an eye out for wayward students heading to the bus stop. Consider adding a weather-covering for cold or rainy days, and a sanitizer or mask dispenser to mitigate the spread of germs. Safety is key; residents will thank you for the attention placed on their children’s well-being.

Prepare for Connectivity Questions:

If your area is relying on online learning options and your property offers WIFI, you will need to be prepared for questions and potential connectivity issues. Remember that students learning at home requires many parents to work from home, as well. All of this online activity can strain your property’s connectivity. 

Your internet provider will likely have suggestions to pass along to your residents. Consult with your internet provider to ensure that you have answers to common questions or problems, or have a contact number residents can call. It can be worth your time to compile a document with relevant information regarding the WIFI during this unique situation so that your management team itself is fielding fewer calls regarding your internet connection. 

Student Awards Program:

While this year will look different than many before it, you can still ensure levity and fun for your residents. Plan according to your area’s regulations and the local guidance. For example, outdoor back-to-school resident events may be permissive in your area. Alternatively, instead of a back-to-school resident event that may not allow for social distancing, consider offering children the opportunity to win prizes based on their academic performance. Creating a student award program is a simple way to connect with your residents and it’s easy to set up. Offer prizes (large or small) to students with high grades, you can allow grade school students to show any A’s on their report card in exchange for a small prize. Or go bigger and offer high school students with a high GPA entry into a small scholarship raffle at the end of the school year.  

If you rent to college students, consider a merit-based rent reduction one month. This not only is a great way to give back to your community and connect with your residents but gaining local notoriety with this program can help you attract responsible student renters moving forward.

Since back-to-school looks unique this year, offering your residents support is key to ensuring that your properties are safe and your residents feel comfortable. Preparing for back-to-school as a property manager can help ensure that the transition goes smoothly as the school year moves forward, and it’s never too late to implement helpful tips as everyone pivots to navigate new obstacles this school year.

This post was originally published in September 2020 and has since been updated.

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