Email is a key channel schools are using to stay connected to their families during this unprecedented time. So, keep emailing your parents, but don’t bombard them! Families are overwhelmed (just like you), with many parents thrust into working from home for the first time, facilitating remote learning for their children (with no education background), and trying to keep their families healthy.
Aside from those added stressors on families, email traffic has exponentially increased, with many companies sending multiple communications to our inboxes with COVID-19-related messages. If your teachers are also sending multiple emails to parents about student assignments, or administrators are sending information about distance learning processes, that volume of email traffic into the average inbox could swamp the most well-meaning parent’s intentions. You don’t want them to miss important school announcements or communications. So, here are five tips so your critical emails don’t get lost in the COVID-19 noise.
- As much as possible, when sending academic information, consolidate those emails into a single email. Some schools are sending out one weekly email on Monday morning with all pertinent quarantine information and that week’s lessons and links. This way, parents are trained to look for a single email each Monday, rather than trying to sift through multiple emails to figure out which remote work or assignments their students are supposed to do. For FACTS SIS schools, this email should mirror the academic work that parents see on FACTS Family Portal.
- Send all emails to families through the Communication portal on FACTS SIS. If you use another SIS product, make sure you’re sending your parent email communications through the SIS (if available). Not only does this archive the email history (which can be important down the road), but you are guaranteed to be sending to the parents’ most updated email address. If they have not kept their email address current by using Family Portal, they will be sure to update their contact information when they realize they are not receiving their children’s academic assignments! It will be easier for parents if they can expect emails to come from the same teacher and/or administrator and/or generic school email address each time. This is made easier using your SIS to send a single, consolidated email (see tip #1) versus allowing multiple senders to use their personal email addresses to send various communications to parents throughout the week.
- Consider including a short video from your administrators or teachers in your regular email. It’s amazing how much students (and their parents!) miss the routine of seeing their teachers and administrators in the carpool line, in the classroom, in the office, etc. It’s so easy to take your phone or tablet and quickly video a little “happy” message to brighten their day when they aren’t able to see their teachers in person.
- Provide helpful information that may have nothing to do with day-to-day school business or academics. A huge number of parents have jumped into “homeschooling” with little or no preparation. As educators, we can provide information such as online supplemental resources, sample daily schedules, and other educational ideas that parents can implement outside of the regular work they are receiving from their child’s teachers. You may want to include a link to the FACTS COVID-19 resource page. We have a lot of articles and on-demand webinars that may be helpful for parents!
- Respect time boundaries. Without our regular schedules, it can be tempting to send and receive school emails well before and after the regular 8-4 p.m. schedule of a typical school day. As much as possible, try to keep normal office hours when you are sending and receiving emails, and encourage your teachers to do the same. It can be tempting to continue answering emails at night while you’re watching Netflix, but normalcy is important during this time — not just for your sanity but to keep things routine for your parents and students. Choose a reasonable time that you will turn off from school communication and start again the next day.