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10 Tips for Communication in Schools After a Break
How do you maintain strong communication in schools after a long break? Here are our top 10 tips.
Coming back from an extended break, it can sometimes be difficult to get back into your regular routine. Your school communication strategy during this time would benefit from specific language relevant to the break, and a tone of sensitivity or understanding for any issues families may have experienced while schools were closed. If you’re struggling to reach everyone and rally your community for important school events & updates, we’ve collected 10 tips for communication in schools after a mid-year break.
Prepare Staff for Sensitive Topics
Make sure your staff is on the same page with language and communication after the break. Remind your school-based staff members that not every student has the same positive experience over a school break (happy holidays or family vacations), so they should be sensitive to that and not include those topics in whole-group class discussions. Now is a good time to ask your staff to observe & listen for t any specific student or family needs that may have come up over the break.
Tech Tip: Create a staff group in your school mobile app for the entire district or each individual school to communicate with teachers, principals, guidance counselors, and other staff members as a whole.
Sync Your Calendars
It’s hard to remember what day it is for at least a few days after a break or holiday. Make it easy on your school community by making sure your calendars are up to date in all the right places: your website, mobile app, and social media. Include upcoming events, athletic games, and even spring testing dates just to cover all the bases.
Keep Your Contacts Current
Some families may have moved or changed phone numbers over the break, and it’s important to maintain consistent communication with them. Make sure you ask all students and families to review their contact information and alert the school of any changes that happened while the building was closed.
Tech Tip: Create a contact change form on your website and app and ask families to fill it out if they have any contact information changes from the break.
Group Your Community
One size does not fit all when it comes to your school communication strategy. Every family doesn’t need to hear every update. In order to avoid information overload, group your students and families according to demographics like grade and school, or interests like the soccer team and student council, and then send out specific updates to those groups. Remember that after a break, it may be time to create new groups for second-semester classes and new sports teams.
Tech Tip: Your school mobile app allows you to generate individual and group conversations using any lists you add to it, so you can facilitate conversations with the whole team or just one player at a time.
Assess Community Needs
Think about your school community: did anything significant happen over the break, like a major weather event? If so, some of your families may be experiencing housing issues, facing significant repair bills, or experiencing some other type of stress related to this event. It’s also important to remember that some students rely on the school cafeteria to get free or reduced meals, so there may be students and families who struggled without that resource over the break. Reach out to families likely to be in this position and offer assistance where you’re able to do so.
Tech Tip: Build a needs assessment form on your website and share it via social media and other communication channels. Give families an opportunity to report their needs to the school so you can connect them with resources.
While it would be ideal if every family in need would be willing to approach the schools to ask for help, in reality we know that isn’t going to be the case. For families who aren’t willing to fill out an online form or approach school personnel for assistance, put together a community resource round-up and publicize that information so that students and families can find the help they need without going through school personnel to ask for it.
Tech Tip: Build a community resource page on your school website and advertise it in your community so that everyone knows where to get help when they need it.
Customize Your Absence Alerts
Families often choose a school break as a time to move, but often we don’t hear about that on the school side until the student becomes truant. When you send out attendance alerts after a break, customize your message to include a reminder that the break is over and ask families to call the school if they have moved out of the school’s attendance zone.
Tech Tip: You can create Auto Notices for your mass messaging platform and send them automatically when a student is marked absent. Instead of the standard message, customize your outgoing information for the first month after the break to include the details above.
Ask Teachers to Reach Out
The time after a break is an opportunity for teachers to reach out to families. They can introduce themselves to new families for second-semester classes, and review grades and progress of students they’ve been working with all year. They should also use this time to create new Google Classrooms and sync them to their Teacher Pages on the school website.
Tech Tip: Make communication easier for teachers by empowering them to reach out to families via your school mobile app. This 2-way communication will automatically translate into the family’s chosen language, and will include administrative oversight for school & district leaders.
Be Inclusive of Everyone
The holidays are a time to be reminded that inclusive language in your school messaging is important. Remember that not everyone celebrates the same holidays (or any at all), so try not to include specific holiday language in your communications. Additionally, make sure that your school updates & messages translate to families’ selected languages, and that all communication is accessible to anyone using assistive technology on your website.
Tech Tip: Your school website should have the ability to utilize web-based translators, and should include built-in tools for accessibility for all users.
COPE: Communication in Schools Made Easy
All this communicating doesn’t have to take up a lot of your time. We always recommend to our clients that they use their technology to COPE: Create Once, Push Everywhere. You should be able to create a news story or announcement and share it across multiple communication platforms with just a few clicks. Streamlined communication means you’re working smarter, not harder!
Tech Tip: Your school website should integrate with all the tools you need to share your news & announcements via email, voice, text, social media, and your mobile app without having to log into multiple platforms to do it.
How’s your school break communication strategy going? Do you need a proven partner to help you reach everyone in your community, no matter the time of the year? We’re here to help! Book some time on our calendar and let’s see how we can work together to streamline your school communications.