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Occasionally, circumstances may arise in which your school decides to close its campus for a period of time. It is important to have a plan for how your school will manage this process should this ever occur. Veracross has a number of tools that can help you manage this process.
Communicating School Closings
You can communicate information about closings to members of the school community in several different ways — your school may choose to use any, all, or none of these options as a way to communicate school closing depending on your school-specific workflows.
Communicate Via Email
You can send custom tailored emails using the Veracross Composer tool to large groups of people using targeted distribution lists. This allows you to send out emails detailing the circumstances of your closure with varying amounts of information to different groups at your school. Learn more about this functionality using the documentation at Learn Veracross that is linked below.
- Composer Overview gives you a high-level overview of using our Composer tool to craft emails.
- Writing a Composer Email walks you through the process of writing a Composer email from start to finish.
- Distribution List Overview teaches you how to use distribution lists to target specific groups of school community members.
- Communication Channel Management in Composer teaches you about channels — a powerful tool that both enables additional security on sending emails/SMS and lets the user manage what types of emails they want to receive.
- Troubleshooting Emails provides you with some common issues when sending emails through Veracross and how to resolve them.
Communicate Via SMS Message
Besides emails, schools have the option to send out SMS messages to members of their school community through Composer. Please note that sending out SMS messages comes with an additional cost per message segment. Learn more about this functionality using the documentation at Learn Veracross that is linked below.
- SMS/Text Messaging Overview details the process and consideration for sending SMS messages to members of the school community.
Communicate Via Portals
Outside of email and SMS messaging, it may be helpful to post a notification about your school closure in your various portals. Learn about your options for this by reviewing the documentation at Learn Veracross that is linked below.
- Screen Builder teaches you how to adjust your portal screens to determine where you announcement should display.
- General Components detail some of the components you may use to let visitors to the portal know about your school closure (like a Notification Link).
- Publishing in News Management shows you how you may use our News Management module to write an article detailing information about your school closing to publish to your portal.
Closing School and Schedule Considerations
Please reach out to your Veracross account manager prior to making significant schedule changes.
After you've determined that school will need to be closed, you will have to actually do that in Axiom by creating a "No School" group event. Note that for "No School" days, attendance is still generated for faculty and staff, but not for students. To learn more about considerations for a school closing group event in Axiom, please review the documentation linked below.
- School Cancellations, Delayed Openings, and Early Dismissal Calendar Workflows shows how to do each of those processes and discusses some considerations surrounding each of them.
- Calendar Day Rotations shows you how to re-initialize a rotation for when you return to school.
- Use alternate block schedules to manage schedule changes.
- Learn more about the "Daily Student Schedule" feature in the student, parent, and faculty (faculty version) portal.
- You may want to utilize the daily schedule feature rather than the schedule document when changing your class meeting expectations because the daily student schedule accurately renders alternate block schedules.
Managing Remote Classes
In case of an extended campus closure, you may decide to continue to run classes remotely. With a bit of flexibility and a little creativity, you can continue the learning process using our learning management system (LMS) in many contexts. Read about workflows that you may decide to use for running remote classrooms below and learn more by reading our documentation at Learn Veracross.
If you are considering managing classes remotely through Veracross, we strongly encourage you to consult with your Veracross Account Manager to talk through the specific workflows you hope to achieve.
Before you decide to run a remote classroom, there are a number of things you should consider.
- Be proficient with the LMS prior to considering a remote classroom. Be sure that you know how the LMS works — and test workflows — before rolling it out to teachers and students, especially if they are not used to using it in the way you will be asking them to. Here are some suggestions:
- Create a testing class, impersonate a teacher (read about impersonation) and perform the tasks you are asking them to do. Set up a class website, make posts, etc.
- Impersonate a student and parent in that testing class to ensure that everyone is seeing what you'd expect.
- Use your own testing to generate directions and screenshots for your own documentation.
- Establish workflows and guidelines ahead of time and communicate them to students and parents. Prior to launching a remote classroom, communicate how the classroom functions to both students and parents so you can answer any questions or clear up any misunderstandings beforehand. Ultimately, these workflows are up to each school and what makes the most sense to your situation. Examples of workflows could include:
- "Each day's assignments will be posted by noon each day."
- "Weekly lesson plans are communicated to students and parents via email."
- "Students are expected to log in daily to check for new assignments or ask any questions."
- "Completed assignments must be submitted to the Assignment Dropbox no later than 11:59 PM the day they are due."
- Determine if and how you will track attendance. You may want to take attendance for your remote class. If not, you can turn off class attendance tracking by pulling in the "Track Class Attendance" field to a standard Find Classes query, and can turn off Master Attendance by reaching out to your account manager. If you do wish to still track attendance, be advised that this may be difficult to manage in this situation — but if you wish to do this, there are different methods you could take:
- Query on logins: Student Logins to Portal Today or Faculty Logins to Portal Today. You could then set up assignments in the grade book to mark "attendance," i.e., whether a student has logged in that day.
Preparing for Students' Remote Work
When students are only submitting assignments remotely, it is important to understand how things could go wrong and how to fix them as soon as possible.
- Ensure the students know how to use the LMS. This consideration was mentioned above, but bears repeating. Prior to launching the class remotely, make sure students understand both the LMS and what is expected of them.
- Consider regular communication via email to students and parents. It can be helpful to have a regular conversation between faculty, students and parents so that faculty or school staff can troubleshoot any issues as they arise. This can be easily achieved through Distribution Lists.
- Familiarize yourself with the user account management process. If a student forgets their password or cannot get access to their account for one reason or another, they will not be successful in a remote classroom, since they won't be able to access any of the content. Understanding how to manage user accounts and password expirations helps enable you to quickly troubleshoot account issues as they arise.
- The Learning Management System (LMS) Category has a number of helpful articles to teach you how the Learning Management System operates.
- Learning Management System Overview provides a great tour to the LMS itself.
- Assignment Workflow takes you through the life of an assignment from start to finish — from entering the assignment to receiving them, grading them, and publishing the scores to students and parents.
- The Assignment Dropbox will be integral functionality if you wish to maintain a completely remote classroom, as this will be the way assignments are submitted.
- Lesson Plan Management helps teachers plan each day's lesson and publish these lessons to both the student and parent portals — yet another method to convey information to students in a class and their parents.
- Resource Library Management introduces the resource library — a handy repository that can (optionally) be shared between teachers that contains resources used in classes across multiple years.
- Class Website Overview introduces the class website, a powerful central location to share information to your class and manage class discussions.
- Class Discussions on a class website are a helpful way for students and teachers to engage in discussions on class subject matter — even remotely!