Critical Communications, k-12 education, mass notification

Why a Mass Notification System Should Be Part of Your Back-to-School Plan

By Sarah Perry

For educators, students and families alike, returning to an academic schedule after summer break is always an adjustment. On top of the academic demands of classes, testing, homework and grading, you also have bus schedules, drop-off and pick-up zones, lunch fees, the holiday calendar, extracurricular activities and parent-teacher conferences. It all takes an enormous amount of coordination and logistics, even in the best circumstances. The potential unknowns such as emergency building maintenance, severe weather and threats of violence create another layer of difficulty.

Add to that the stress of re-opening during an ongoing pandemic, and we’ve got quite a challenging school year ahead. Although 2020 gave us a crash-course in virtual learning, many people report feeling even more stressed now than last year. The prevalent theme seems to be anxiety over what could be next, for both adults and youth. Expect your students’ families to look to the school for updates on the pandemic and how it will impact education.

Suffice to say, academic administrators faced unprecedented challenges last year, and the coming school year doesn’t look like it will be much easier. Differing opinions on mask-wearing, vaccination and the best way to educate our children while keeping them safe will make the 2021-2022 school year more challenging than ever. Keeping everyone calm, providing an atmosphere of stability and modeling resilience – those are tough asks for educators. So how do you do it? Effective communications are at the core of it all.

The ability to reliably reach faculty, students and their families under all circumstances and deliver clear, concise instructions is vital to your mission. At this point, many school districts have received and issued directives regarding requirements for masking, social distancing, indoor/outdoor capacity and virtual classes.

Modern communications technology enables school administrators and staff to give students and their families the support they need. With a mass notification system (MNS), you have a reliable means of contacting everyone easily, with just a few clicks on your preferred device. School and district officials can send alerts, messages and notifications to multiple groups of people, instantly. For example, an MNS can be used to communicate changes due to COVID, such as moving to online or hybrid learning. Effective communications does more than keep your students and parents informed and engaged. It can also save time and money when it comes to more routine and time-consuming tasks like tracking down low account balances due on lunch fees.

A group messaging system lets you:

  • Set contact groups, such as grade, bus route or sports team
  • Automate attendance calls and communicate reminders
  • Sort, track and send requests and reminders for payments due
  • Pre-create templates for anticipated events, such as delayed opening notifications during inclement weather
  • Automate sequential calling for substitute teachers
  • Conduct real-time polling of staff and parents
  • Enable recipients to set their own preferences for language, modality (text, voicemail, email or push notification) and device (landline, smartphone, laptop or desktop)
  • Review a record of all prior communications any time with an audit trail feature

You’ve got one of the most important missions in the country, at one of the hardest times in human history. We’ve learned time and again that the key to success is adaptability. Even the most comprehensive back-to-school plan will need to adjust to the crisis at hand.

A mass notification system, integrated with your student information system (SIS), provides your school with the flexibility needed to handle both everyday school challenges and pandemic uncertainties. Regular and clear communication keeps the school day running smoothly, whether it’s in-person or virtual.

Download our resource to learn more about how a modern MNS can set your students, families and faculty up for a successful school year.