GotPhoto Corona FAQ

Coronavirus FAQ: Useful Information for School and Nursery Photographers

Blog  »  News & Updates, May 21, 2020, Dominic Bryant

Last Update: May 21, 2020

One thing is certain: the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is currently keeping the world in suspense. Following the official announcement by the UK government of school closures many nursery and school photographers are now facing even greater challenges.

For this reason, we would like to work with you on immediate measures and long-term, sustainable solutions. We would like to answer the first questions that you have already asked us in this article.

Note: With the help of your feedback, we will continuously expand and revise our content. We look forward to your ideas and suggestions, which you can send us using the form at the end of the article.

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Table of Contents:

What we know about school returns so far:

  • Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced on Sunday, May 10 that year 6, year 1, and reception classes should return from June 1.
  • However, there is widespread concern from local councils, teachers unions, and parents that returning so soon puts people’s health at risk. Equally, there is concern that schools are not prepared for this return.
  • The Local Government Association which represents many local councils in England has sad councils should have access to coronavirus testing data, so they can decide when at what pace to reopen. Read more about this here.
  • Since the outcry, the Government has appeared to row back and say it is not a fixed date to return and they are open to speaking with councils and teachers to decide the best course of action.
  • The plan is for schools in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland not to reopen until the summer term.
  • All UK schools have been closed since Friday, March 20.

How do I react to the establishment closing and photo day being cancelled due to this or other reasons?

Closed facilities and canceled photo days are a challenge for every nursery and school photographer. However, it is very important that you show your understanding of why the decision has been made.

Try to plan an alternative date for early summer with the establishment in the hope that the coronavirus situation has eased by then. This reduces the risk of filling your calendar with too many appointments in the autumn when schools have likely started again. If the earlier appointment is not possible, you can always see if there is time in autumn instead.

If this offer is not accepted, give the establishment time until the situation has relaxed and a return to everyday life is possible. Do not push for an answer as it can be perceived as inappropriate given the circumstances.

How can I cushion financial losses through schools and nurseries closing?

The UK Government now has a dedicated Business Hub providing small businesses with all the information they need to get through this crisis. This includes information on how to apply for grants, universal credit, and the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme and how to defer VAT payments. Visit the Business Hub here.

UPDATE:
On Thursday, March 26, the British Government unveiled new measures to help businesses and the self-employed. The highlight is that they will pay the self-employed a taxable grant worth 80% of their average monthly profits over the last three years up to £2500 per month.

This is available for three months but can be extended. The first payment will be in June and backdated, but criticism remains that by then many businesses and self-employed will be severely stretched financially.

Read full details on how to access this new financial package.

Previous Measures – Friday, March 20:

Pledge to pay 80% of wages, up to £2,500 per month, backdated to March 1 for three months or longer, if required, for small businesses. Grants will be made available to businesses within weeks. (gov.uk)

Other notable pledges included the ability for self-employed people to access Universal Credit at a rate equivalent to Statutory Sick Pay for employees, plus the extension of the Corona Business Interruption Scheme from six-months interest-free to 12-months interest-free.

Previous Measures – Tuesday, March 17:

Temporary loan schemes, deferred tax periods and tax support through HMRC’s Time to Pay service and refunds for businesses and employers that are required to access Statutory Sick Pay. The Federation of Small Businesses (FSB) has further details here. 

Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan scheme from up to £1.2m per business to £5m with no interest payable for six months. Further details can be found on Small Business. This loan scheme was later extended to be interest-free for the first 12 months and is available from Monday, March 23.

Additionally, the FSB also advises checking how your business insurance works in the case that your company has to temporarily close due to Coronavirus. Check if you have Business Interruption cover in your commercial insurance policy, and then if this includes an extension for “notifiable diseases”. Coronavirus has already been declared a notifiable virus by the British Government. You will then need to check specifically with your provider if the coronavirus is covered or request for it to be added.

Again, the FSB has plenty of helpful advice for businesses that will be affected by the coronavirus. The federation is updating its page regularly and includes a range of useful materials.

What should I do when my lab closes?

Due to the coronavirus and on the basis of direct advice from the British Government that ‘non-essential’ businesses should stop production whenever possible it is likely that labs will announce temporary closures soon or already have.

This will likely affect delivery times and any current open orders. However, there are steps you can take to deal with this:

  • Send an email to your customers and potential customers on active jobs indicating that there will be: “Possible delays due to the coronavirus. These are difficult times and we hope for your understanding. Your orders will be shipped as soon as normal operations pick up again.”
  • Do not proactively offer cancellations to your customers, since production will eventually resume once businesses have returned to normal and your awesome products and photos will be delivered.
  • Emphasise download options in your shops for your jobs. This can help attract further sales in this uncertain period. 

Note for GotPhoto Customers: We are aware that our lab partners have officially announced temporary closures. We have added a notice to all UK photographer shops indicating to your customers that delivery times will be affected. 

We ask for your understanding at this difficult time. Production and delivery will continue as soon as legal circumstances allow. We are in close contact with all partners and will update you via newsletter, social media and in the config as soon as we have any new information.

How do I behave correctly on the photo day in times of the coronavirus?

To protect everyone it is crucial you ensure that neither you or your photographers are sick or feeling unwell when attending a photo day.

Important: We recommend following these tips from the British Government and NHS on how to recognise the symptoms of coronavirus, how to prevent its spreading and what to do if you do have it.

What can I do in the meantime following school closures?

The UK will need social distancing until at least the end of the year, according to the UK’s chief medical officer. Thus it makes sense to begin preparing for this and consider new approaches. It is extremely important to think of potential ways to ease any worries that there may be from schools and nurseries about photographers creating any additional infection risk.

GotPhoto can assist with a contactless approach that still enables you to provide school and nursery photos, and we would be happy to discuss this directly. Book a time to speak with us here.

Many photographers have been discussing what they can focus on during this uncertain time and we have gathered together their insights here:

  • Re-open old galleries and make special offers to your existing customer base
    • Special offers for Mothers Day and Easter
  • If you haven’t already, make the switch to online sales (find out more below) 
  • Switch your orders to direct shipping
  • Offer downloads more prominently in your online shop
  • Sell gift cards/vouchers for in-studio sessions
  • Utilise newsletters to keep your customers informed what you are doing during this time
  • Offer online courses 
  • Optimise your website and social media pages  
  • Refresh your marketing and acquisition materials
  • Research new props, backdrops, and equipment you can use 
  • Educate yourself and prepare for when this is over: Look for useful software and tools. Watch demos to see how they can help your business grow as soon as things are back to normal.

To connect with other school photographers on this issue, we recommend joining Facebook groups such as:

How should I communicate with customers and visitors to my website?

During these uncertain and tough times, we encourage you to be as communicative and open as you can be to both your potential customers and existing customers. It is important to let them know how you are handling the coronavirus crisis. Being forthcoming will foster trust with people visiting your website.

Carmel Jane Photography has taken a positive step to communicate with visitors to their website by displaying this notice below on the homepage:

I would like to switch from proof cards to online sales at short notice. How do I proceed?

In Nurseries:

Our recommendation, especially for photos in nurseries is to not confuse the establishment with the question of switching to online sales before the photo day in this tense time. Instead, print out the required amount of QR cards you need for the shoot in advance and take them with you to the photo day.

On the photo day, seek out an opportunity for a conversation with the nursery management and explain that you would like to switch to online sales so that the establishment is not additionally burdened with proof card sales or money collection. If the management cannot or does not want to make a decision at short notice, then it is up to you. You can either photograph the QR cards anyway and do not hand them out to the management or parents or you proceed with the proof card method. 

In Schools:

We recommend that you speak to the school in advance and convince them of the advantages of online sales. There are useful arguments in this ‘How To Win New Customers’ white paper.

I fear that the nursery or school will close before I can sell my photos. How should I handle it?

Switch your order to online sales with direct shipping as soon as possible. You don’t have to go to the establishment after the photo day. The parents order the photos in the online shop and pay digitally via PayPal or Stripe. The orders are then sent directly to the parents.

What should I do with my employees?

Updated:
On Friday, March 20 the British Government announced any employer can apply to the HMRC to have up to 80% of a member of staff’s salary paid. This is capped at £2,500 a month and can be backdated to March 1 and run for three months. Find out more here.

Businesses can consider during this tricky period of uncertainty introducing temporary lay-offs and short-time working as a measure to deal with the shortage of work and to avoid redundancies. However, employers can only do this if it is expressed in the individual employee’s contract. If it is not, both parties may agree to alter the contract to deal with this situation. 

The public workplace expert, The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) has further details on how lay-offs and short-time working agreements function. 

If employees cannot work because they have to look after their child due to the nursery and school closures, Section 57A of the Employment Rights Act 1996 gives employees the right to a reasonable amount of unpaid time off work because (amongst other reasons) of the unexpected disruption or termination of arrangements for the care of a dependant.

However, the Government also announced in the recent 2020 Budget that the Statutory Sick Pay will be extended to those who are caring for someone in isolation and that this should be recognised as sick pay.  The FSP has further details on this here.

Note: This article will be revised. We look forward to your questions, comments, and input!

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Dominic Bryant