Early dismissal school days, or early release as they are often called, are a common occurrence in the school system. For early dismissal, it is essential for schools to have a well-prepared and efficient plan to ensure a smooth and safe dismissal for all students. Early dismissal from school can be caused by various reasons, both expected and unexpected.
Even planned early releases can result in students waiting long after dismissal time because parents forgot; or due to a communication breakdown, students could potentially take the wrong mode of transportation home leaving them vulnerable.
This article uncovers ways to prepare for an early release day at school by outlining:
- The reasons for early dismissal days
- How to handle communication with parents
- How to properly prepare for student dismissal
- Ideas for organizing staff responsibilities to make dismissal run as smoothly and efficiently as possible.
Reasons for Early Dismissal Days
An early dismissal day can happen due to planned events such as staff planning days, holidays or ‘half days’ or from unexpected events such as inclement weather or on-campus emergency situations.
Planned Early Dismissal Reasons
Staff development or professional development is a common reason, in which teachers and staff receive training and workshops to improve their skills and knowledge, or simply just more time to plan for lessons. Holidays and designated ‘half days’ occur regularly and alter the ‘normal’ dismissal time and scheduling too.
Unplanned Early Dismissal Reasons
Inclement weather is one of the most common unexpected reasons, where schools may need to close early to ensure student and staff’s safety.
The least common reason, but the most important to plan for, would be early dismissal due to emergencies, big or small, that occur on school grounds. You never know when there could be a power outage or a local water main break so it’s important to be prepared for an emergency dismissal.
Preparing for Early Student Dismissal
As with any normal school day, schools want to execute a safe dismissal for kids and staff. This is the same with early dismissal, but can be even more challenging due to the veering off of normal routine, especially if the early dismissal is unexpected. Therefore, having a detailed and practiced plan in place for any type of early dismissal is extremely important. Here are some tips to help your school be prepared for early dismissal.
Update Your School Calendar
Whether it’s paper or digital, your school likely already has a school calendar. Make sure to include any planned early release days on this calendar to let parents know ahead of time.
If you’re a Pikmykid customer, you can even schedule these early release days in your Pikmykid portal so parents can see.
Communication with Parents
Remind parents of planned early release days a few days in advance AND the day of. You can do so by putting an announcement on your website, sending an email, sharing on social media, sending a note home with students, and even calling or texting.
Schools using Pikmykid can send reminder messages through their portal that go to the parents’ preferred forms of communication.
To be prepared for those unexpected early dismissals, schools should establish a clear and concise communication plan ahead of time. Schools should also inform parents about the circumstances that may lead to early dismissal and the communication channels that will be used to notify parents.
Communicate with parents through various channels such as phone calls, email, the school website, and social media. The communication should include the procedure for early dismissal, designated pick-up areas if different from a normal day, how to verify that you are the authorized person for pick-up, and expected time of dismissal.
Events like back to school nights are great opportunities for you to share how your school would communicate with them in the event of an unplanned early release.
In the event of an unexpected dismissal, the school should remain in constant communication with parents and guardians to ensure they stay aware of what is occurring and know where and when pick-up of their kids will be held.
If your school utilizes the Pikmykid platform, it is easy to send alerts and communication to parents in real time.
Coordinate with Transportation Providers
Many kids get to and from school by riding the bus. Coordinating with bus transportation providers is crucial so they too know what is happening and what is expected of them to help keep the kids safe.
Also, many schools will utilize buses for transportation in an emergency reunification situation. This makes communication with bus transportation all the more important.
During any early dismissal, it is important to remain calm and focused. This will help to ensure that everyone remains safe and that the dismissal process goes smoothly. It is especially important during an emergency situation. Having an already practiced plan in place will help teachers and staff to stay calm in high stress situations.
Student safety is a top priority during early dismissal. This may include having staff members stationed in key areas to supervise students, securing the building, and ensuring that students are released only to authorized adults. Verify custody arrangements and all identification of parents and guardians.
While this can be a difficult task using printed lists and google docs, an automated system, like Pikmykid, makes verifying identification and authorization of pick-up much more accurate, efficient and saves a lot of time.
Make sure to keep accurate records of who has picked up each student and when. This is important for ensuring that all students are accounted for and that they are with the person they should be. At the end of the day, all schools want to have a complete list of students checked-off for dismissal and be confident they all arrived home safely with their parents or guardians.
Schools should establish a designated pick-up area for early dismissal to ensure the safety of students in emergency situations. The pick-up area should be clearly marked and should have adequate supervision to ensure that students are picked up by authorized persons only. Schools should also provide guidance to parents on the pick-up process, including the need for proper identification.
As mentioned earlier, a digital platform would assist in the efficiency of confirming identification of parents or guardians. Instead of having to worry about printing off lists to scan during a stressful situation, school staff could do it all digitally.
Practice the Dismissal Procedure
School staff, including teachers, administrators, and support staff, should be trained ahead of time on early dismissal procedures to ensure that they understand the plan and can implement it effectively. This training should include the procedure for early dismissal, the designated pick-up areas, and the authorized persons for pick-up.
Staff should also be trained on how to communicate with parents and students during early dismissal and how to manage any unexpected situations that may arise. Assigning duties for the shortened day, ensuring coverage for all necessary areas, and reviewing emergency procedures with staff are crucial.
Schools should practice the dismissal procedures as well. The practice can help identify any potential issues or problems with the procedure, allowing the school to make adjustments as needed.
Did you know that Pikmykid can not only be used for normal dismissal, but both unplanned and planned early dismissals? Request a demo to see how Pikmykid works!
Early Dismissal Day Success
As we know by now, early school dismissal can be a stressful situation for both parents and schools. Being prepared for early dismissal days is essential for school staff members to ensure effective teaching and learning, student safety, and clear communication with parents and students. By proactively planning for different scenarios, schools can help ensure all early dismissal days are a success.