Zachary J Baehr

#1 – The one priority to keep us all on schedule

If you could provide only one thing for the parents of your school, just one basic area to focus on their most essential need, what would that be?

Without a doubt it has to be the calendar.

  • Do we have school today?
  • When does Christmas break start?
  • What time does school let out on a half day?
  • When is that all-school Mass?
  • What time does the game start?
  • What is for lunch today?

Your school is essential to the lives of your families, they simply need to know dates and times of school in order to make their rest of their lives fit. When there is no school, or there is an early dismissal from school, it forces families to adjust their own schedule for the day. So it is critical that this information is easy to find, available in a variety of formats: website, Newsroom, emails, social media, and so on.

Let’s make our school schedule a top priority. The good news is that this focus area doesn’t require an enormous amount of time. Much of this can be done in the summer before the school year starts.

If you think you are already doing this well, the only way to know for sure is to test with a focus group. Bring in 5-10 parents of different backgrounds, and give them a set list of tasks, with school calendar being one key objective. You can also try this yourself, but on a site you don’t know. 

Try it

Take (my school) for example: Can you tell me when our Christmas break is over (and is it over on that day or does the second semester start on that day?), and whether or not students get Easter Thursday off so I can better plan my vacation? Please let me know if you can’t! Also make a mental list of how things flow on our site: what did you like that you can use, or what did you not like that you already use (and thus need to fix)?

A special task for you

There is one task that even I don’t have a great handle on: the adjustment of a school menu when school is cancelled for an emergent reason (snow day, power loss, etc.).

  • Will your nutrition staff skip that meal, or would that cost them a lot of waste?
  • Will they move each meal back one and skip the next meal that is not already in stock in their kitchen?
  • What if it’s the latter, but tacos would then fall on a Friday where your school typically offers a meat-less entre?

And when you solve this, how will you communicate this out to parents so they know whether to pack a lunch for their student when school resumes? In my house, this is a big deal! We usually have to guess, pack a lunch just in case, and then ask our own child what they think will be served tomorrow.

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