• Checklist

Operational Change Management Checklist for Non-traditional Learning

Operational Change Management Checklist for Non-traditional Learning

Resiliency and adaptability are necessities in today’s quickly evolving world. Organizations must, at times, quickly execute operational changes in order to respond to various types of changes or threats. For example, a nonprofit may need to temporarily shut down due to a security break, HVAC failure or by civil authority. Prolonged school closures could shift the need for an organization to increase daycare operations. An infectious disease outbreak could lead a school that normally provides hot meals or a food pantry to switch to online ordering and curbside pickup.

Change also brings with it a certain level of risk. This is because, with change, there is oftentimes disruption to established processes and procedures. Changes in staff levels, technical skill demands, facility characteristics and lack of clear communication are just some of the risk factors that need to be managed. It is important that your organization identify, assess, and adequately address risk factors associated with operational changes on a proactive basis before losses can occur.

When considering a shift in your operations, three steps can help you assess your facility’s preparedness to handle the new operations, identify your susceptibility to frequent or severe losses, and plan your hierarchy of controls

Risk Assessment

Change, especially sudden change, can bring about confusion and create situations where it is easy to miss important considerations. Beginning with a risk assessment presents a structured approach to addressing the risks associated with the changes. It is important that you include members from different departments of your internal team in risk assessment so that you benefit from other perspectives and experience/knowledge. This also helps to create “buy-in” from all staff and volunteer members.

Educational instruction within home settings brings about risk management considerations that are not typically present within the traditional educational setting. This is because, often, there are multiple “entities” involved in delivering educational instruction. Examples include, but are not limited to:

  1. The homeowner
  2. Contracted employees providing instruction
  3. The entity coordinating services
  4. Third parties contracted to deliver services


Risk transfer is an important consideration in these types or business relationships. For instance:

  1. Does the homeowner have an adequate insurance policy?
  2. Do contracted educators carry proper certifications?
  3. Are Certificates of Insurance collected?
  4. Do third party service providers carry adequate insurance?
  5. Are contracts used and have they been reviewed by an attorney?
  6. Do third parties adequately screen and verify their staff members?
  7. When are staff members technical “working” and when are they not?

The answers to these questions, and more like them, can really impact your organization if they are not considered prior to commencing operations.

Risk assessments should include both table-top discussions of potential risks and physical walkthroughs of the home to identify physical risks. Examples of risks for consideration can include:

Physical Risks

Tabletop Discussion

  • Slip/Trip/Fall Hazards
  • Securement of areas not in use (Ex. pools, playground equipment, garages, equipment storage structures, etc.)
  • Identification and supervision of isolated areas not visible to Staff
  • Increased sanitation of work surfaces and play areas in accordance with CDC/State guidelines
  • Securement of pets
  • Electrical safety (cords, outlets, etc.)
  • Safe food handling measures (food safety and food allergies)
  • Maintaining emergency egress routes
  • Securement of furniture and other heavy items that could fall over
  • Physical security vulnerability assessment
  • Use of playground equipment not certified for commercial use
  • Control of chemicals
  • Securement of sharp objects and other unsafe objects
  • Kitchen safety
  • Designated play areas
  • Control of stairs and other changes in elevation
  • Securement of windows
  • Balcony controls and proper railing configurations
  • Indoor air quality

  • Compliance with local/state health codes
  • Adherence to state and federal mandates
  • Adequate training of all new Staff/Volunteers and training of Staff/Volunteers in new roles
  • Parent pick-up/drop-off procedures
  • Proper screening of new Staff and Volunteers – careful consideration of Staff/Volunteers in identified “at-risk” people
  • Appropriate age grouping
  • Third party risk transfer measures, if needed
  • Sick child response protocols and isolation procedures
  • Infectious Disease safe practices in place
  • Child screening procedures and COVID-19 testing of new children
  • Intake information including emergency contact information
  • Medication handling procedures
  • Professional Liability coverages
  • Instructional Certification as required by state and federal regulations
  • Instructional Content Certification
  • Crisis response (medical emergency, allegations of abuse, etc.)
  • Bathroom procedures
  • Student attendance and accountability
  • Parent communication and notifications
  • Field trip procedures
  • Safe transport procedures

Prioritize Risks through a Risk Assessment Matrix

Once you have identified the risk exposures that are present with the change in operations, it is a good idea to grade the risks and prioritize them so that you can develop controls for the highest priority to the lowest.

Risk Assessment Matrix
Severity of Consequence




Likely to Occur Repeatedly


First Aid or Minor Medical Treatment


Likely to occur several times


Minor injury, lost workday accident


Likely to occur sometime


Disability in excess of 3 months


Not likely to occur


Death, disability
Improbable: Very unlikely – may assume exposure will not happen

Risk Level


Risk Acceptable, Remedial Action Discretionary


Take Remedial action at appropriate time


High priority remedial action


Operation not permissible

Hierarchy of Controls

This hierarchy is intended to provide a systematic approach to eliminate, reduce or control the risks of different hazards. Each step is considered less effective than the one before it. It is not unusual to combine several steps to achieve an acceptable risk. The types of hazards employees are exposed to, the severity of the hazards, and the risk the hazards pose to employees should all be considered in determining methods of hazard elimination or control.

Hierarchy of Health and Safety Controls

Most Effective

1) Elimination Design to eliminate hazards such as:

  1. Falls,
  2. Hazardous chemicals,
  3. Dangerous objects,
  4. Openings, and
  5. Dangerous playground equipment
2) Substitution
  • Substitute for less hazardous objects and environments:
  • Approved areas of operations with hazards removed
  • Child designed tools and objects
  • Playground equipment approved by the Consumer Product Safety Commission
3) Engineering Controls
  • Creating physical barriers between people
  • Adequate Ventilation
  • Guarding of dangerous objects and/or areas
  • Electrical safety devices such as outlet protectors
  • Installing guard rails
  • Automatic safety latches
  • Installing gates
4) Warnings
  • Signs
  • Labels
  • Alarms
5) Administrative Controls Procedures

  • Redistributing responsibilities to reduce contact between individuals
  • Physical Distancing
  • Using technology to facilitate communication
  • Operational Procedures
  • Safe work procedures
  • Proper screening and selection of staff and volunteers
  • Adequate risk transfer controls



  • Staff level training
  • Student level training
  • Parent level training
6) Personal Protective Equipment
  • Face Masks
  • Face shields
  • Gowns and/or aprons
  • Gloves
  • Respirators

Least Effective

Not all controls are the same. While elimination of the risk altogether is preferred, it is not always the most feasible. Select the most effective control type that is feasible for your organization.