Words By:
Heather Hobden
Marketing Analyst
Posted On:
November 2, 2020

An app-based questionnaire will improve your school. How? Communication and connection are integral to a successful school-guardian relationship. Guardians and parents want to know how they can help their children succeed. 

But 2020 has thrown a wrench in all that:

  • In-person parent-teacher conferences are almost non-existent, 
  • many children are learning remotely
  • and hybrid school plans are the new normal. 

Throughout all this, school administrations are striving to cultivate their parent and guardian relationships, and the EdTech industry is helping them. In this article, we’re going to be talking about all those relationships.  

  1. Why did app-based questionnaires become popular at schools?
  2. Best practices for using app-based questionnaires for a school health check-in
    1. Tips for keeping your questionnaires simple to answer
  3. Other Uses for App-Based School Questionnaires 
    1. Gather information from parents about what they care about
    2. Gather responses to a variety of issues that you need to address
  4. Privacy Implications of Gathering Information through a questionnaire
    1. HIPAA
    2. FERPA

2020 started with a global pandemic being announced by the WHO (World Health Organization) at the beginning of March. That led to school closures, staying at home, and social distancing for what we thought would be just a few weeks. Due to forces beyond anyone’s control, it’s now November and many of those practices are still in full force. 

In order to safely resume a somewhat normal life, health and wellness screening options became regular, especially at schools.

Best Practices for Using Electronic Health Check-Ins 

Globally, electronic wellness and health check-ins are used to track and record symptoms of illness. They are used in businesses, schools, and all places where people congregate to discourage infection spread. 

These questionnaires can be set up to run at various intervals depending on the needs of the organization using them. They can be used to screen for an array of symptoms in:

  • Parents  
  • Visitors 
  • Staff  
  • Students  
  • Employees
  • Customers
  • Etc.. 
women answering a questionnaire on her phone

Most of these wellness checks use a quick general yes or no questionnaire to screen people for symptoms. 

Questions like:

  • Do you or your child have a fever of more than 100℉? 
  • Do you or your child have a runny nose or cough? 

Tips for keeping your school questionnaires simple to answer

Health and wellness questionnaires can be used in a variety of ways, but there are a few things to keep in mind when setting up your questionnaires. They need to be simple to complete yet provide you with enough information to make informed decisions. A few things that enable this are:

  • Multiple-choice or yes/no questions 
  • Thinking about what you want your desired outcome to be
    • What information do you need to collect?
    • What questions could lead you to that information?
  • Using as few questions as possible
  • Keeping it short and simple

Other Uses for Electronic Parent Questionnaires  

While this information and these options are excellent and quite useful, how can this technology be used year-round? What happens when we go back to ‘normal’? Will this software still be useful to schools and other industries? 

Yes, it can be particularly useful for schools to communicate with their parents and staff about a variety of things. 

woman gathering information on a tablet

Gather information from parents about what they care about

Parents and guardians care about their children and what their kids are doing and learning at school. Questionnaire features can easily be used to know your parents better and understand their problems

A few Topics that parents care about and example questions that can be used:

  • Changes in curriculum
    • Would you like to see the curriculum changed in a particular subject or class?
  • Rules they’d like to install or change
    • Do you approve of the *x rule*? 
    • If you could install one of the following rules at our school, which would you enact?
      1. Rule 1
      2. Rule 2
      3. Rule 3
  • Ask about engagement in remote learning.
  • Help parents connect with their kid’s teachers at their level
    • What is your preferred way to communicate with your child’s teacher?
  • Understand how the kids at your school learn
    • Is your child able to complete their homework? 
    • Which of the following best describes your child’s learning style?
  • Increasing parental involvement 
    • What of the following activities and things would help you be more involved in your child’s schooling?
  • Keeping schools safe
    • Which of these safety options would make the most significant difference for your child?
  • Find out who needs extra services/electronics. 
    • Is your child in need of a chrome book? 
    • Does your family have reliable internet access? 
  • Decisions about hybrid plans
    • Send regular questionnaires about different school plans and to see how people are adapting.
    • Are they succeeding? 
    • Would they recommend something else? 
    • Did something in the past work better?
  • Understanding what parents like and dislike about your school
    • How do you rate the design of this school?
    • On a scale of 1-5, how would you rate your connectedness with this school?
    • How do you feel about the leadership of this school? 
    • As a parent at this school, how would you rate your parental involvement?
    • How do you rate our teaching staff on a scale of 1-5?
woman taking her child to school after filling out a questionnaire

Gather responses to a variety of issues that you need to address

A questionnaire feature can also be used to gather information about a lot of different issues. Including any future infectious outbreaks that could impact your school 

  • Mental health check-ins
    • Has your child displayed signs of being depressed? 
      • Sleeping more or less than usual?
      • Isolating themselves? 
      • Irritability? 
    • Does your child display signs of anxiety?
      • Excessive Worrying?
      • Disrupted sleep patterns?
      • Fast heartbeat?
  • See who’s coming to a school event
    • Are you or your child(ren) planning to attend the winter dance? 

Lastly, Privacy

Using questionnaires to gather data about children and families can lead to an array of privacy issues. 

In fact, various privacy concerns have been raised about gathering data and sharing statistics and information from that data to parents and staff at your school. This has even lead many to question if this process violates laws like FERPA and HIPAA. 

To conclude this article, we’ll address these concerns and review what the laws say.

man, boy, girl, and woman walking down a street together while wearing masks

HIPAA 

The Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996 solidifies and clarifies the legality of health information transmission. There has been an abundance of confusion over the legality of schools being able to share health statistics like the number of COVID cases in their county. Is this allowed under HIPAA? 

According to the US Department of Health and Human Services – HIPAA typically does not apply to schools. And health information that could be shared by said schools most likely falls under the legislation of FERPA. 

FERPA

The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act sets the requirements for protecting parents’ and students’ privacy. This act clarifies how Personally Identifiable Information (PII) can and can’t be distributed. And what rights students and their parents have to this data.

In March 2020, the US Department of Education released a list of Frequently Asked Questions regarding FERPA and COVID-19. That guidance states,

“Although educational agencies and institutions can often address threats to the health or safety of students or other individuals in a manner that does not identify a particular student, FERPA permits educational agencies and institutions to disclose, without prior written consent, PII from student education records to appropriate parties in connection with an emergency, if knowledge of that information is necessary to protect the health or safety of a student or other individuals.”

FERPA and the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) | Protecting Student Privacy 

In Conclusion

App-based questionnaires can be incredibly useful and incorporated into numerous aspects of the school day. As well as facilitating the parent/guardian-school relationship. 

Click here to learn about the questionnaire feature that we have integrated into the PikMyKid system

Let us show you safety.

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Heather Hobden  -  Marketing Analyst

Heather’s passion for digital marketing started by launching a blog in her teens. From there, she progressed to doing digital marketing for a variety of industries and companies. Her expertise lies in Social Media Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, and Content Writing. But her fascination with the industry drives her to constantly learn more every day. When she’s not writing or developing content for marketing, she enjoys cooking, cleaning, crocheting, reading, and listening to true crime podcasts.