Distribution List Overview

Overview

Email distribution lists are used by school faculty and staff to communicate with groups of people using a single email address. Veracross automatically generates hundreds of such distribution lists, and additional ones can be created as needed. They function by relaying the original email from a Veracross mail server to all email addresses in the corresponding list from the school’s database.

Email distribution lists should only be used for official school purposes and should be distributed and maintained with discretion according to your school policy.

Basic Distribution List Conventions

Each distribution list is composed of up to three elements before the “@mail.veracross.com.” For example, the list veracrossacademy.grade_8.s@mail.veracross.com, which would send an email to all the students in eighth grade:

  1. The school’s short name
  2. A description of the group of people (e.g., grade_8), in this case specifying eighth grade
  3. .s” specifies the students themselves

Your school’s short name is visible in the URL of any page, e.g.:

https://axiom.veracross.com/veracrossacademy/#/detail/household/563/21-general

Sending and Receiving Distribution-List Emails

Emails using distribution lists are designed to be sent from the user’s own email client using their official school email address. Each recipient will see their own name listed as the recipient (e.g., JohnDoe@someschool.edu), rather than the distribution list (e.g., veracrossacademy.grade_k@mail.veracross.com). If an email is sent to multiple distribution lists, additional distribution lists are hidden and recipients will not see that information. If additional personal emails are included in the “To” or “CC” lines of an email, all recipients will see that information in the message they receive. Because of this, placing additional personal addresses in the BCC line is generally suggested.

Email 1 and Email 2 Fields

Emails are only sent to recipients’ Email 1 addresses; Email 2 is only used for informational purposes. Email 1 and Email 2 can be used as a sending address if the sender has permission to send to distribution lists, but all responses will go to the sender’s Email 1.

Do not use BCC when sending to a group distribution list, as it will fail. Sending to a list of people without each recipient seeing the others (a common use of the BCC field) is accomplished by using the distribution list.

Spam Filtering

Many email service providers/ISPs are taking an aggressive approach to filtering and/or blocking spam. The Veracross mail server complies with all known requirements for legitimate commercial use. However, on occasion an email sent to one of the distribution lists may get blocked, tagged, quarantined, etc. due to factors beyond our control (such as content-filtering).

To minimize the chance of your school’s emails being filtered, the following are recommended:

  1. Never send an email with a blank subject line.
  2. Since some email recipients block all emails whose sender is not in their contact lists, ask your constituents to “whitelist” the veracross.com domain.

Read more about email statuses and resolutions.

Specific Distribution Lists

The following are the main distribution lists most commonly used by schools. The basic syntax is given when helpful, along with examples.

Class Distribution Lists

Available from the Communications tab of the Class detail screen, these lists email all students, parents, faculty (staff), or related teachers. The syntax is:

schoolname.c_internalclassid~classid(.s, .p, .staff, .related_teachers)@mail.veracross.com

  • veracrossacademy.c_359~hrm1.s@mail.veracross.com
    Emails all students in the class
  • veracrossacademy.c_5789~span.p@mail.veracross.com
    Emails all related individuals of students in the class who have either
    • Legal Custody
    • General Correspondence flag checked

This person must also have a preferred communication method of Email or Both.

  • veracrossacademy.c_5044~s156f.staff@mail.veracross.com
    Emails all teachers in the class
  • veracrossacademy.c_5044~s156f.related_teachers@mail.veracross.com
    Emails all teachers of all the students from all their other classes

Group Distribution Lists

Available from any “Find Groups” query, these lists will email members of a group. The syntax is:

school.g_group-abbreviation@mail.veracross.com

  • veracrossacademy.g_MSBSG@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.g_JVBB@mail.veracross.com

Teacher Distribution Lists

Available on the “Communication” tab of a teacher’s person detail, these lists will email a teacher’s students, parents, advisees, and advisee’s parents. The syntax is:

school.t_teacher-first-name_teacher-last-name(.s)@mail.veracross.com

school.t_adv_teacher-first-name_teacher-last-name(.s)@mail.veracross.com

  • veracrossacademy.t_julie_santos.s@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.t_julie_santos@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.adv_julie_santos.s@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.adv_julie_santos@mail.veracross.com

Distribution Lists on the Student Communication Tab

Several distribution lists are available on the Communication tab of the student detail screen:

Email Parents: Emails related people with custody of a student, ignores General Correspondence (GC) flag.
Syntax example: school.parents_of_12345@mail.veracross.com

Email Parents and Student: Adds the student to the above.
Syntax example: school.parents_and_12345@mail.veracross.com

Email Teachers: Emails all the student’s teachers with class permissions excluding Substitute, Adjunct Dorm Parent, and Other.
Syntax example: school.teachers_of_12345@mail.veracross.com

Email Academic Teachers: Emails all the student’s teachers with above class permissions, but only includes classes with the course type Academic, Advisory, and Homeroom.
Syntax example: school.academic_teachers_of_12345@mail.veracross.com

Email Coaches: Emails all the student’s coaches (anyone with class permissions Coach or Assistant Coach), regardless of the course type.
Syntax example: school.coaches_of_12345@mail.veracross.com

Parent Distribution Lists

There are two avenues for emailing groups of parents. Both require the parent to have an Email 1 in the system and have their “Preferred Communication Method” set to “Email” or “Both.” The key difference between these two methods is how they take legal custody into account.

Via Parent groups: Access these distribution lists by clicking into the Find Groups query on the System homepage and  then clicking into the Parents option. Click here to navigate to your school's Parent groups.
These distribution lists send emails to the following:

  • Mother/Father
  • Step-Mother/Step-Father
  • Guardian
  • Anyone who has the Legal Custody flag checked on the relationship record between them and the corresponding child

Syntax example: veracrossacademy.g_parents_w_students_in_grade_4@mail.veracross.com

Via Parent distribution lists in Child  groups. The “child” group referenced could be applicants, students, et al. Access this distribution list by clicking the Find Groups query on the System homepage and then clicking through a child group until you get to a query with "Email Distribution List" and "Parent Email Distribution Lists" columns. The distribution list this is referencing is the value in the "Parent Email Distribution List" column.
Individuals will receive emails from this distribution list this if they have either of the following:

  • Legal Custody
  • General Correspondence flag checked

Syntax example (note the .p modifier): veracrossacademy.g_students_in_upper_school.p@mail.veracross.com

Parents of a Specific Child Distribution Lists

Available on the “Communication” tab of the Student Detail screen, these lists email all individuals with custody of a given child, ignoring the General Correspondence Flag. It is only functional for custodians of students, future students, program students, and candidates. The syntax is:

school.parents_of_[personID]@mail.veracross.com

Syntax example: veracrossacademy.parents_of_12345@mail.veracross.com

Profile Code Distribution Lists

Located by Find Groups –> People –> People by Profile Code, these lists email all people with the specified profile code.

  • veracrossacademy.Newsletter@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.Christmas_Card@mail.veracross.com

Role Distribution Lists

Located by Find Groups –> People –> People by Role, these lists email all people who have the specified Role. To see a full list, click on Person Roles from the System home page.

  • veracrossacademy.Parent@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.Donor@mail.veracross.com

Volunteer Jobs Distribution Lists

Accessed by Find Groups –> People –> People by Volunteer Job, these lists send to all people who are signed up for a specific volunteer job.

  • veracrossacademy.Office_Help@mail.veracross.com
  • veracrossacademy.Bake_Sale@mail.veracross.com

Portal Accounts Distribution Lists

Accessed by Find Groups –> Parents –> Parents –> Parents With Portal Access, and  these lists email all parents who have portal accounts.

Parent by Grade Level Group Distribution Lists

Accessed by Find Groups -> Parents -> Parents by Grade Level — these distribution lists anyone with the (Step)Mother, (Step)Father, or Guardian relationships to the student. Additionally, it emails any individuals with Legal Custody of the child.

  • {schoolshortname}.g_parents_w_students_in_grade_9@mail.veracross.com  

Creating Additional Distribution Lists

To create a new distribution list in Veracross, navigate to the System homepage, hover over the Add button , and select Add a Group.

When the group has been created, add all the people to this group who you wish to add to your distribution list. Each group member must have an email address in the Email 1 field to receive any emails sent to this school-defined distribution list. School-defined group membership must be managed by the school; they are not automatically updated or refreshed. If a person should no longer be part of the school-defined distribution list, they must be manually removed from the list of group members by clicking the ‘X’ next to their name from the General tab of the group. Group members can be added to or removed from a school-defined group at any time.

Read more about Advanced Reports, which also generate email distribution lists.

Sending a Test Email

It is recommended that you test a personalized email (if merge fields will be used) before sending it to ensure that the merge fields get processed appropriately.  To test, send the email to school.test@mail.veracross.com, substituting your school short name for the word ‘school.’

To use distribution lists, including a test, you must be a staff or faculty member at your school and must be sending from the email account that matches your Email 1 or Email 2address in Veracross (see below for more details).

Once you send the email, it will be processed and sent back to you (and you only). The merge fields that you include in your email will be processed against your personal information within Veracross. So, for example, if you have the {vc:phone_home} field in your test email, then it will come back to you with your phone number in place of {vc:phone_home}, provided that you have a home phone number in Veracross. If all merge fields are processed successfully, then it is safe to send it out to any of the distribution lists. Read more about creating personalized emails with merge fields.

Email Distribution List Security

The same security that protects the Veracross system upon login also governs the distribution lists. Specifically, the email distribution lists will only work by default when the email is sent by a person who is a staff or faculty member, meaning, they have either a Staff or Faculty person role. When the email is sent, the Veracross mail server verifies that the sending party’s email address matches a valid staff/faculty Email 1 or Email 2 address in Veracross. For example, if a parent tried to use an email distribution list, the mail server would not distribute the email. Likewise, if a staff member tried to send an email from a personal email account (that is not their Email 1 or Email 2 address), the mail server will not distribute the email message.  If these rules are not functional for your school, it may be possible under certain circumstances to customize the logic. Ask your account manager for pricing if your school requires different rules for email distribution list “send” permissions and security, and be prepared to explain the specific or acute problem that your school is encountering.

Email Whitelist

If there is a special email address that needs access to distribution lists, such as admissions@ourschool.org or development@ourschool.org, you can add those address to the Email Whitelist. This can be found on the system homepage under “Communications” or on the Communication homepage under the Email column. To add an email to the whitelist, hover over the Add button on the System homepage and select “Email Whitelist.”

Note: A “whitelisted” email can use any distribution list. There is no way to grant access to only particular ones.

Allow or Deny Access to Send to Distribution Lists

There is a system profile code called “Allow Access to Distribution Lists” that will allow a user to send to distribution lists, even if they would otherwise not have permission (e.g., parents). Note, though, that the profile code permits the user to use any and all lists; there is no way to give access only to particular ones.

There is also a system profile code called “Deny Access to Distribution Lists” that will prevent a user from sending to distribution lists, even if they would otherwise have access (e.g, they are faculty or staff). If a person has both the ‘deny’ and ‘allow’ profile codes, the ‘deny’ one wins.

This profile code can be used instead of clearing a person’s email address to prevent sending, especially in the case that the person’s email account was compromised and is sending out spam.

Bounces

Bounce notifications are sent back to the original sender of an email if the entire email failed to send. Bounces from individual recipients can be seen on the email log in the Communications section of the System homepage.. Read more about email statuses and resolutions.

See other commonly asked email questions