Schools across America often struggle to keep up with the way kids are being dismissed. This can lead to overcrowded carpool lines and dreaded pick-up time in the front office. Without streamlined operations, it’s no wonder that many schools struggle with dismissal processes.
There are a variety of different ways to release students, but schools need to properly document the method(s) used. This process can be complicated since most schools are still using the same technology they used in the 90s.
Imagine a different scenario. You have a platform that helps communicate with parents, manage dismissal, and ensure kids get home safely. Best of all, it takes care of the details so you can focus on helping students succeed.
Schools are finally starting to use software to enhance student safety, streamline dismissal, and follow federal law. Pikmykid does all that and more!
Not having a streamlined dismissal process can lead to a lot of different risks.
Risks of Not Having a Streamlined Dismissal Procedure
There are many risks associated with student dismissal. Let’s review a few of them:
1. Carline Frustration:
Long carlines, loud bull horns, yelling, and walkie-talkies are the norm of dismissal time across the country.
During this time it’s common for miscommunication between parents and staff about the pick-up procedure. For example, parents may not know where their assigned carpool spot is. Families and staff may become frustrated about the lack of organization and long wait-times.
2. Custody Compliance Issues:
There can also be confusion over which parent, sibling, guardian, or grandparent is picking up the student. This confusion can lead to the school refusing to release a student. Even worse, students may be put into cars with people who are not approved by the school district, their parents or the court to pick them up.
This is a huge safety risk for schools and students alike, not to mention the cause of awkward and unnecessary custody battles in the parking lot.
3. Unsafe Drivers:
Parents aren’t immune from road rage. With long traffic lines, they can become angry and impatient, leading them to go around cones and make dangerous decisions in the car line. Students’ safety may be jeopardized as a result.
4. Communication Breakdown Between Faculty and Parents:
Without a streamlined system in place, communicating a change in a kid’s dismissal method can be messy. And the more dismissal methods your school has, likely the more messy it becomes.
Teachers are left in the dark on which specific areas students need to wait, such as the gym or a line in the parking lot. Office staff becomes bombarded with end of day phone calls from parents. And parents worry if their kid will get released via the appropriate method.
5. Inaccurate End-of-day Student Release List:
Mistakes during dismissal can actually start at the beginning of the day. That’s because most schools have no established process for documenting attendance. If you don’t have accurate attendance for the day, it’s pretty difficult to ensure every student gets home safe.
It’s also common for teachers or administrators to be unaware of students who were absent for an excused absence versus unexcused. Incomplete records can be mistaken as a decline in student engagement and participation, or an increase in truancy.
6. Early Dismissal Confusion:
Early dismissals aren’t always on major holidays, at the same time, or even planned (hello snow days and canceled soccer practices). Without a way to communicate dismissal times and changes, students and teachers can be left waiting for an unaware parent.
Parents may also be left wondering where their kids go when the bell rings for early dismissal.
7. Teacher Burnout:
It’s no shock that studies have found teachers are more burnt out than ever before. Chaotic end of day operations are definitely on their list of job dissatisfaction. That’s because outdated dismissal procedures result in lost teaching time and avoidable stress.
8. Student Safety & Mental Health:
It’s not just families, teachers, and school staff that get stressed out from unorganized school dismissal! Students’ mental health can also suffer from the stress and worry of how they’ll get home at the end of each day. Standing in long lines at dismissal can also increase the likeliness of bullying, harassment, and physical altercations.
These are just a few of the top concerns and safety issues caused by poorly designed dismissal processes. But it doesn’t have to be all doom and gloom when it comes to sending kids home at the end of the school day. Here are just a few ways you can improve your school’s safety.
Steps to Improve School Safety for Dismissal
Every school has different needs and therefore different processes, but the following steps are sure to get your school’s dismissal operations on the right track.
1. Ask for Feedback
Start by asking for feedback on your current dismissal process from school staff and parents. What’s great and what could be improved?
You can use this feedback to design a new and improved process. And because staff and parents felt a part of improving your process, you’re more likely to get buy-in for the upcoming changes.
2. Get Accurate Attendance Reports
Avoid dismissal chaos from the start by getting an accurate roster of students each day.
Create a process (or leverage technology) for teachers to keep track of which students are present each day. This process should also account for how teachers can update records for kids that leave school early.
By having an accurate record of students at the end of the day, you can ensure every kid on campus that day gets home safely.
Consider using technology to streamline this process so staff have up-to-date information on which students are on campus throughout the day. Pikmykid, for example, can manage both student attendance and dismissal management – a total win-win.
3. Map Out Dismissal Options
Map out a system detailing what the different dismissal options are and specific dismissal instructions for each. For example, if you have bus riders, car riders, and after school programs you’ll want to create instructions for each transportation method.
Make sure to include details like:
- When the teacher should dismiss the students (or will someone come get them?)
- Where the students should be dismissed to
Once documented, share that information with all your school staff.
4. Setup Efficient Communication
Good communication is one of the most critical components to avoid end of day mayhem.
You’ll need to determine how parents should communicate with staff:
- Which method each student will use each day
- Changes to a student’s dismissal method
- Modifications to who will pick up their student
- Planned absences, late arrivals and early pickup
- Who they are when they arrive in the carline
You’ll also need to outline how teachers and staff will communicate with parents about things like:
- Changes in dismissal methods – like canceled sports practice
- Delayed start times and early dismissals due to bad weather
- Buses running behind schedule
Last, but certainly not least, don’t forget to determine how staff will communicate these key pieces of information with each other. And not only how they’ll communicate, but also keep track of all the updates.
5. Leverage Technology
There are a lot of logistics when it comes to students arriving on and leaving campus. There’s no need to create Google forms and spreadsheets to handle all these details!
With Pikmykid, you can streamline the entire process! These are just a few of the components you can simplify with our all-in-one dismissal and safety tool.
Update student attendance: Teachers and parents can mark which students are present, tardy, or picked up early.
Set dismissal methods: Parents choose within the app which dismissal method their kids will be using each day. For students using car pickup, parents can specify who is authorized to pick them up that day. And if there’s a change in plan, no problem! Parents can simply update the dismissal method in the app without having to call front office staff.
Give parents dismissal status transparency: Parents are notified when their child is put on the bus, leaves to walk home, is dismissed to an afterschool program, or picked up from the carline.
Send parents real-time updates: Quickly send messages to families on all kinds of dismissal updates: canceled after school programs, early dismissal due to bad weather, late buses and more.
6. Communicate & Teach the Process
Once you’ve made your plan and what technology you’ll be using, communicate the new process to all your staff AND parents.
School dismissal might not be as easy as the ABC’s, but with a well documented plan, the help of technology, and some proper training, your school will be well on your way to a safe, stress-free dismissal program.
Want to learn more about Pikmykid’s dismissal and safety platform? Click here to request a demo.