Monitoring and Evaluating Covid-19 Mitigation Strategies In K-12 Schools: Focus Group Guide

Introduction and Welcome

Welcome and thank you for being here today. My name is [your name] and I will be the moderator for today’s discussion. I am an [insert role] at [organization or agency name]. The purpose of this discussion is to get feedback on the prevention strategies your school implemented to reduce the spread of COVID-19. Prevention strategies are actions that people and communities, such as K-12 schools, can take to reduce the spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. Some examples of these prevention strategies for COVID-19 are handwashing, physical distancing (you may have heard of social distancing) and wearing a mask.

Your experience and opinions are very important to us. We are especially interested in learning about the prevention strategies implemented at [your school district or school name], the factors that helped or didn’t help your school in implementing these strategies, and how these strategies may have impacted student’s health (including social, behavioral, and mental) and academic achievement at your school.

The format we are using is a focus group that will take no more than [X minutes]. A focus group is a conversation that focuses on specific questions in an environment that is safe from the influence and  judgement of others. I will guide the conversation by asking questions that each of you can respond to. There are no right or wrong answers to these questions. Just be honest. You do not have to answer any questions that you do not feel comfortable answering. If you like, you can also respond to each other’s comments. It is my role to make sure everyone gets to participate. [Notetaker’s name] is here to take notes and keep track of the time. We would like to record this focus group. The recording will not be heard by anyone outside of this project. The recording will only be used to make sure [notetaker’s name] notes are correct.

Before we get started, I want to let you all know the information that we learn today will be compiled into a final report. The report will include a summary of your comments and some recommendations. It may be shared with the Superintendent, other district leaders, or public health professionals. This focus group is anonymous and confidential. “Anonymous” means that we will not be using your names and you will not be identified as an individual in our report of this project. “Confidential” means that what we say in this room should not be repeated outside of this room. Although we hope everyone here honors this confidentiality, please remember that what you say here today could be repeated by another focus group member. So please, do not say anything that you absolutely need to keep private. The tape this interview is recorded on will be kept safely in a locked facility until it is transcribed word for word, and then it will be destroyed. May we have everyone’s permission to record this focus group? (Note to moderator: Please obtain a yes from all focus group participants before proceeding. If participant declines permission to record but is willing to participate, the session will not be recorded; however, notes will be taken. Reassure the participants that the notes will not include their names or any other information to reveal their identity.)

Thank You. There are a few ground rules to follow during our focus group. Focus Group ground rules:

  • The most important rule is that only one person speaks at a time. There may be a temptation to jump in when someone is talking, but please wait until they have finished.
  • There are no right or wrong answers.
  • You do not have to speak in any particular order.
  • When you do have something to say, please do so. You can raise your hand to speak or speak up after the other person has finished speaking. There are many of you in the group and it is important that I obtain each of your views.
  • You do not have to agree with the views of other people in the group.

Does anyone have any questions before we begin?

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