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Three reasons why every school district needs a comprehensive communications platform to support efficient, effective two-way parent communication

Has your district unified school-to-home communications?


Three reasons why every school district needs a comprehensive communications platform to support efficient, effective two-way parent communication

Maintaining efficient and effective communication with students’ families is challenging in the best of times, but it’s become even more onerous—and critical—during the global pandemic.

The shift to 100 percent remote online learning tested communication capacity in districts nationwide, with many school districts turning to comprehensive communications platforms for help.

Here are three challenges that can be solved by using a unified communications platform:

  1. Too many disparate, disconnected systems. Most school districts have added school-to-home communications technology in much the same way they have acquired all technology—one program at a time. As is often the case with legacy systems, each stakeholder group has its own preferred method of communicating with students’ families. Teachers, principals, and districts themselves are using multiple systems. The results are often a mishmash that lacks a coherent approach to sending and receiving messages, leaving families with questions and concerns about what they do not know.

Replacing these disparate, disconnected systems with a single, integrated platform that offers administrative oversight along with deep analytics and reporting capabilities will streamline communications from the district office to the classroom teacher. In addition, having all communications in one place for families will improve engagement.

  1. Families that aren’t involved in their children’s education. Parents are often overwhelmed by the volume of school messages and variety of messaging channels, leaving them with questions like:

● Did the school newsletter go to the spam folder?
● Where is the Friday Folder?
● How can we add money to lunch accounts or submit health screening forms?
● Where is the email about signing up for the parent-teacher conference?
● Was there a practice schedule in the app the coaches use?

Some schools and districts have eight or more communication channels, including robocalls from the central office. And if a parent or guardian’s primary language is not English, attempting to find and decode all the school news becomes even more difficult. It’s hard to get parents to engage in their child’s school if they are not sure what is going on—particularly in the changing environment of in-person, remote online, and hybrid learning.

An easy-to-implement, multipurpose system that creates equitable access and offers two-way dialogue options with language translations can also create a more interactive relationship between schools and families.

  1. The need to keep family contact data current. In most districts, parent or guardian contact information is stored in the student information system (SIS). However, these systems were not designed with communications with parents as one of the primary functions, and updating records requires significant administrative overhead. The inevitable changes in parent emails and phone numbers, particularly in a district that has frequent changes in student population due to shifts in employment and other economic factors, can be difficult and time-consuming to identify and correct. Maintaining accurate parent contact information—and keeping it private and secure—is the first essential step in effective communication with families.

Having a strong connection with families is paramount to building a student-centric school community. Parents and guardians need to feel part of their child’s education and be knowledgeable about what is happening day-to-day in a simple, straightforward manner. Providing an effective, easy-to-use school-to-home communications platform can make powerful school-to-family connections a reality.

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