Let’s face it managing K-12 school student dismissals is a hard and overwhelming job. When kids put on their backpacks an alarm goes off in their brain, they start acting crazy and become ready to storm out at any moment.
It’s tough being a school administrator or principal, especially at this time of the day, since your job is to know who students went home with and how they got home. To go about this job you and your school need to develop organization and discipline around dismissals.
I came across this fantastic article that describes common problems teachers face around school dismissals. The author has done a great job of outlining the issues in detail and shares her tips on setting up classroom dismissal procedures.
Adding to the complexity, COVID-19 has likely put an additional burden on you and your school. The list starts with increased sanitation, cleaning, new protocols and social distancing requirements. Leading from the start of school day to dismissals, social distancing is a vital part of student health and safety.
What are components of a good dismissal process
- Knowing when parents arrive.
- Knowing when to send a student out of the building.
- Knowing how a student is getting home (e.g. car, walk, bus, family member pick-up).
- Knowing how many students have left and how many are still waiting.
How do most schools go about student dismissals today
Most schools deploy humans to solve this problem. They have additional administers and staff with walkie talkies who talk to parents and notify the staff members inside the building to dismiss students.
Some schools leverage technology to solve this problem. Some entry level and widespread solutions include using google sheets or google forms. Schools will ask parents to fill out a google form and view the submissions on a google sheet. Another solution is to have staff members load google sheets on their iPads at the curbside and add parent names upon arrival.
Some schools use a school dismissal software solution like one of these:
Common school struggles with student dismissals
Using humans to solve the problem, as outlined above in solution A, curtails speed, efficiency and is prone to miscommunication. On top of that, there is communication channel overload; it’s mentally exhausting to stay tuned-in on walkie talkie radio.
Using Google Forms and Google Sheets creates a lot of manual processes everyday. First it starts with having to create a new google form each day or clearing out previous day’s entries. Then you can be vulnerable to loss of data if the bookkeeping is not done properly (e.g. old entries are not backed up into another spreadsheet). Not to mention, these apps don’t have the best mobile experience since they are used for a wide array of use-cases. Lastly, the lack of notifications can take a hit on productivity.
Finding the right software solution, as outlined above in solution C, can turn into a big decision. The decision matrix involves factors such as cost, time to implement, time for adoption, getting approval from stakeholders, and convincing decision makers to agree on a software solution.
Furthermore some large scale software solutions will combine multiple products into one. It’s common to see an entire SIS (Student Information System) bundled together with a student dismissal system. Evaluating programs like these makes the decision harder and more time consuming since there are many stakeholders such as teachers, school staff, administrators, school principal, IT personnel, parents, students, and school districts using your current SIS.
Some creative options using digital check-in apps
A creative option is to utilize a multi-purpose digital check-in app. Typically these apps are designed for a wide range of use-cases and therefore are faster to evaluate, adopt and orders of magnitude cheaper than large scale solutions we discussed in solution C.
A premium feature to look for: QR code & SMS check-ins.
- Perks of QR code check-in; With the QR code check-in feature you can print out a QR code and pin on the checkpoints alongside your pickup curb. When parents stop at the checkpoint they can scan the QR code using any modern smartphone camera and access the check-in webpage.
- Perks of SMS check-ins; This is a new technology to spearhead, when parents arrive they can text a toll-free number along with a unique six digit code for your school. On the backend you can register parent’s phone numbers along with students they are authorized to pick up. Once the SMS comes in the check-in app will organize people by their arrival times.