What Consumers Expect From Private Schools During the Pandemic

The Edelman Trust Barometer reveals that consumers expect brands to help society through COVID-19.

Consumers have high expectations that brands do the right thing through the pandemic.

A special report by Edelman reveals some valuable insights on how people are viewing the activities and advertising of brands in the midst of COVID-19.

65% of consumers said that how well a brand responds to the pandemic will have a huge impact on their likelihood to buy from that brand in the future.

Many respondents have recently adopted new brands as a result of the compassionate or innovative way the brand has handled COVID-19— 60% in India and 82% in China.

85% of respondents want brands to focus their advertising on how they can help people throughout the crisis.

49% of those surveyed said that brands must respond to the crisis positively to earn or keep their trust.

Dos and don’ts for independent schools to earn the trust of their community

DO: Step outside of your comfort zone. Use the creativity and out-of-the-box thinking of your faculty and staff to address and solve the problems that everyone is facing, not just your existing student body.

When public schools closed in my area, my community was very concerned for the lower-income children that depend on free student lunches. Schools in my county rose to the occasion and offered free meals three times a day to any student and their family who came by the designated schools for meal pickups. That made my opinion of Henrico County Public Schools skyrocket.

55% of people believe that the private sector responds more quickly and more effectively than the government. Private schools should be thinking hard about how they can go above and beyond to serve the children in our larger community. The public expects it. For example, give the public access to your distance learning programs.

DON’T: Be stifled into inaction by concerns that the school’s break-out ideas and activities will somehow miff parents and alumni. The community believes private schools should be bold and generous. Don’t let them down.

DO: Invest and show up. People believe brands/schools will play an important role and expect them to make sacrifices and potentially lose money for the good of the community.

DON’T: Hide back and wring your hands. It’s not the time for independent schools to put up walls, protect what’s theirs, and pull back budgeting funds and reserves.

DO: Collaborate with the community. People want to see brands selflessly collaborating with other public services and the government to help solve pandemic issues. Respondents said that they trust information from brands more than information from the government.

DON’T: Cut your workforce to save money. The penalty in public perception will be permanent—71% of people say that such policies will erode their trust in a company forever.

DO: Communicate with compassion. People are reassured by positive brand actions and commitments. Communicate with empathy to help inform and calm. Back your compassion up with actual substantial action in the community. In other words, be real.

DON’T: Be superficial. We are in the midst of a history-changing event, this is not simply about perception and optics. Don’t limit your compassion to simply including “We’re all in this together” platitudes in emails and social media posts.


Like private-sector brands, private schools are being watched with some skepticism, but moreso with hope that they will help us through this historic trial.

The way independent schools respond to the pandemic could permanently affect their future viability.