Taking Control of Dismissal and the Changes Parents Make
How is a parent’s end of day dismissal changes for their child regulated on a daily basis? On an average, a school with 400 students receives a total of up to 40-50 change requests via emails or phone calls to the front desk or to the individual teachers every day.
Even in 2021, schools are still using the same labor-intensive method to communicate a schedule change from a parent to the child or teacher.
This article will go over safety objectives and key areas where PikMyKid’s Schedule Change Calendar is beneficial in increasing school accountability, safety, communication and teachers’ time.
The Current System Is Flawed
A student schedule change management program streamlines many aspects of operations the front office and teachers are responsible for. With a program that is as easy as accessing email, school staff and teachers now have one less thing to worry about. Work flow usually starts with a call or an email to the school. The school then needs to verify the person making the phone call has permission to make changes to the student’s account. Once verified, the assistant sends a note to that child’s teacher by a runner or email. Finally, the teacher and child are made aware of the change.
This communication can happen at the beginning of the day; allowing the child to forget as the day goes on or even worse, last minute changes right before the final bell rings! The room for error is astronomical when a child’s safety is put at risk. Unfortunately, forgetfulness or last-minute changes happens in the majority of schools today. Since technology is readily available it should be utilized to make schools safer and run more efficient.
Student Schedule Change Management: An Overview
Throughout a single school day, a parent can make many different changes for their child. These may include pick-up mode changes, delegation requests, absentee notifications, early release requests, after-school program changes etc…
In the 21st century, there is no longer a need for a parent to call the school when the school has a schedule change manager in place. As parents easily delegate a new guardian for specific days, the school will receive an instant notifications.
Having a digital calendar for each child in which a parent and school can manage, makes it a lot easier on everyone. Recurring changes saves time so that a parent doesn’t need to resubmit a change weekly or biweekly. Biweekly or monthly events can get confusing at times, and this automation keeps everything flawlessly organized.
Delegation requests are one of the most common changes a parent can make. A delegation could be anything from an approved guardian picking up, or changing the primary dismissal mode to the car-line, bus, walker or after school. For example, parents make a change on their app to say their child is carpooling with a friend or going home with grandma. All parents have to do is add the delegate’s name and mobile number and they are connected through a secure portal to the correct child.
Just as simple as delegating a new guardian, the parent can change the mode of dismissal. If a parent knows they are going to be late or is going to miss car-line, they can send their child to an after-school program to be picked up later. PikMyKid added the option for parents to mark students absent or early release. With this quick validated process, there is no longer a need for handwritten notes because the parent can communicate why their student is out of school directly through their app.
On the school’s end, the front office has real time notifications regarding every change. Teachers also have the ability to look at all the changes made for their classroom in their school dashboard.
Now that we have an idea of what student schedule change management is and how that process works, part two will explore the system’s beneficial characteristics and problems and solutions of real-world examples.
The most common method for gathering emergency contacts is at the beginning of the year. The school stores emergency contacts on a white/blue card or in a large notebook which contains 1 to 3 approved emergency contacts. Parents may need to make changes during the school year that were not captured on the cards at the beginning of the year. Should we not have a more dynamic system that takes care of all these tasks with a high degree of accuracy?
Accessing cards or notebooks can be a timely task at the end of the day when everyone is trying to leave in a hurry. Giving parents the ability to change guardians as needed alleviates stress on the school and front office. All approved guardians and their emergency contact information are housed within the PikMyKid program.
Parents rarely notify the school when their contact information changes throughout the year. In the beginning of the school year, parent contact information is about 90-99% accurate. By the middle to end of the school year, parent information declines to 40-70%. The PikMyKid safety platform manages contact information through the parent app. Parents are unable to announce or manage schedule changes if their information is out of date. Parents will update their information with school support contact to ensure they are current with all alerts at all times.
In the case where a person other than the primary parents needs to pick up a student, our system requires the parent to send a secure delegation through the parent app.
The procedure allows school to be more organized and takes the guesswork out of the reunification process.
Grandparents are a good example of an emergency contact on a contact card who would normally be approved to pick up year-round. Always having a year round approved guardian can be a problem because it can create miscommunication and allow a secondary guardian full access to that child. After talking with many schools, I have heard of this example many times, when a grandparent picks the child up and then mom or dad shows up left wondering where their child went.
Reducing congested cars in the pick-up line is one of the biggest benefits carpooling and ride sharing provides to schools. When a school provides a platform that empowers parents to reduce the number of cars in line, they are not only reducing dismissal times but they are also saving teachers time.
Parents can now easily collaborate with other parents for carpooling or play dates. This is all handled within the parent app of PikMyKid. The app simplifies delegation to another parent, sibling, relative or trusted family friend to pick-up a child.
Checks and balances. Today we get a confirmation when we book a doctors appointment, or buy something online. Yet typically, parents do not receive a notification confirming their child’s schedule change. This added step of accountability can make an impact in mitigating risk and liability. As a school safety consultant with PikMyKid and speaking with so many schools, I have heard of many dismissal mishaps that could have been prevented with a confirmation from a schedule change management system.
There are so many incidents where a school put a child in the wrong car or put the child on the bus instead of the car due to miscommunication between the school and the other person on the phone. Many times the school has to explain to the parent how something so profound happened. There is no accountability for the other person on the phone. With today’s system it is a one call/email message sent to the school. Hopefully this message is received in a timely manner and relayed properly.
In this method, the parent has no way of knowing whether the change was verified. But with confirmation, both parents on the child’s account can make sure the change is correct and have the peace of mind that their child is taken care of.
For children who require a little extra attention, an automated secure system is needed. Special education teachers are amazing at what they do for their students. Typically, they end up getting to know their students and parents very well due to the classroom sizes but that doesn’t mean they wouldn’t like something to further aid in accountability. PikMyKid gives them the necessary tools to further increase communication, accountability and rapport with parents.
Communication with parents of special needs children is vital in making sure their children are getting home safely. A dismissal scheduler can communicate any changes directly to their child’s calendar for all staff to see without the need for notes, emails or calls. Typically, mom and dad may need extra help from time to time picking up their child from school. Usually grandparents or a third-party care centers help parents with the day to day needs. Having access to make changes from their phone gives parents complete control.
When the child is sent home with a new guardian or on an activity bus, our platform gives parents real-time alerts saying they have been dismissed for the day – adding to the accountability and peace of mind everyone involved.
Custody Issues come up a lot when speaking with schools about how that is managed through PikMyKid. Currently with custody issues, it is hard to know with 100% accuracy who is allowed to make changes to a child’s calendar or pick them up.
PikMyKid makes sure the primary custodial parent has control over the information and the other parent can only pick up on authorized days.
After School Programs
If the parents know they are going to be late in the car line, they can easily send their child to an after school activity. Schools with many programs love the organization PikMyKid provides to ensure every student is accounted for. SIS systems does not always allow for after school attendance. Currently, attendance is taken the old fashion way using paper and pen.
PikMyKid recognized the vulnerability in today’s method and address the Afterschool program dismissal.
Teachers are one of the most stressed resources in today’s schools. Schedule changes bring interruptions within the classroom. These interruptions are in the form of notes, calls, and constant message tracking. PikMyKid not only reduces the calls to the front office by 70-90%, but it also limits classroom interruptions..
During these interruptions students and instruction get side tracked. The whole classroom is distracted by one note. Time and energy is wasted on trying to get students back on track. When a substitute teacher or after-school volunteer are involved, they can’t easily figure out who and where each child needs to go to. Having the whole school on one system simplifies the entire process and gives them insight to proper approval and delegated changes with quick precision.
Ready to Streamline Dismissal?
At first glance, you wouldn’t think something as simple as relaying a message to the school could be so complex and involve so many different factors. This process has not changed much in the last 50 years with the exception of email. I know when I was going to school, it was based off the honor system and we did as we pleased.
All too often, I hear of schools and districts losing kids! They say it as though it is an inevitable and hopeless occurrence. This is utterly unacceptable! We owe it to our children to take the proactive approach to prevent anything like that from ever happening again especially since we have the technology to do so.
Interested in taking a closer look at all the features in that makes our program the first comprehensive School Safety Platform? Schedule a demo today.