December 12, 2017 Advice

Taking Control of Dismissal Changes – Part Two

This second article dives deep into specific safety school characteristics and the effects of a schedule change management. These include emergency contact management, carpooling, message confirmation, special needs, custody issues, after-school programs, and most importantly teachers time.

In part one I defined schedule change management, and how the system works to aid school staff in the process.

Emergency Contacts

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 accessibility 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.

Someone filling out Childcare Emergency Contact Form.

Parents rarely notify the school when their contact information changes throughout the year. At 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 Parents are unable to announce or manage schedule changes if their information is out of date.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 a school to be more organized and takes the guesswork out of the reunification process.

Mature women using her phone on a bicycle

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.

Car Pooling

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.

Confirmation

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.

A multi-ethnic group of elementary age children are standing outside of a school bus and are waiting to get on.

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.

The parent, in this method, has no way of knowing whether or not the change got to their child or teacher 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.

Special Needs

For children who require a little extra attention, an automated security 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

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 do 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.

Multi-ethnic group of teen students in computer lab with teacher in foreground. Classroom, education, school setting. Latin descent teacher.

Teachers’ Time

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 sidetracked. 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 into proper approval and delegated changes with quick precision.

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 on 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?


Andrew Phillips

School Safety Consultant

Andrew is a graduate from the University of Florida, with a degree in Communication and Leadership Development. He has experience working as an Account Executive for schools, healthcare and other government entities. He is passionate about learning about global sustainability and ways technology can prepare us for the future. In his free time he enjoys rooting for his favorite Florida sports teams.

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