A Guide to Planning Transitions to School
Communication Tips for Your Transition Attendance Plan
During the 2020-21 school year, it’s important to convey the right message about attendance and participation to families, students and the community. This year especially, focus on strengthening relationships and building community. Remember to keep your communications written in a concise, timely and accessible manner
The communication tips on this page are designed for district and school leaders to develop a communications plan that accompanies a transition plan for the 2020-21 fall semester -- and subsequently a year-long transition plan. They are organized to support the Five Key Ingredients. To learn more about the underlying concepts, read our Present, Engaged and Supported: A Guide for Planning Transitions to School.
Check back for resources to help with your communications.
Attention to Equity
Anchor equity to your communication strategies to ensure they are tailored to the culture, language, abilities and realities of your students and families, especially those who have been disproportionately affected by Covid-19 and systemic inequities. Recognize and draw upon the insights of students, families and community leaders when designing and implementing outreach.
- Share priorities and plan with entire community.
- Consider using three elements of restorative practices - Engagement, Explanation and Expectation Clarity - in crafting outreach and communications. Leaders need to clearly explain process and decisions about resource allocations and expectations of staff.
- Share aggregated data (overall and broken down by grades and key student populations) with your school community to inspire partnerships to understand and address resolvable barriers to student participation and engagement.
- Celebrate students and their families for good and improved attendance (avoid an emphasis on perfect attendance) to encourage monitoring attendance whether learning is in-person, at a distance or a blend of both.
- Communicate in families' home languages and use multiple platforms (email, phone, social media, websites) that are accessible to people with disabilities.
- Recognize “fun” and celebrations as an essential ingredient of learning. Especially In PreK-5, let the joy of early childhood shine through your communications.
- Prepare in advance to collaborate and communicate with families during transitions throughout the school year, both planned and unexpected.
- Clearly and consistently communicate with partners about their value, role and responsibilities, including for enabling strong parent voice and participation.
- Celebrate and include partners in planning for back to school and crafting new and updated health and safety protocols.
- Sharing data and consistently communicating the value of shared accountability helps keep partners aware of their role in supporting a successful back-to-school transition for the 2020-21 school year.
- The district should use the three elements of restorative practices – Engagement, Explanation and Expectation Clarity – in its communications. Faculty/staff, families and students need to be partners in defining the capacity building issues, identifying the solutions and implementing priorities.
- District leaders need to clearly explain process, decisions about resource allocations and expectations of staff.
- District and school teams need to be able to look at data in real time (or at least weekly) and ensure that the data is shared with teachers, students and caregivers/parents.
- The district office needs to ensure that students and parents/caregivers have access to attendance data that is easy to understand and alerts them when a student is has poor attendance or is not participating in distance learning.
- Positive engagement has to begin with a comprehensive centralized communications strategy differentiated to diverse stakeholders (families, students, staff, community partners).
- Effective communication to families should be positive, clear and brief.
- Make sure the district has a plan to communicate with schools and families about the resources and services available from community partners, and maintain open communication through-out the year with all partners.
- Internal district communications should be clear about where stakeholders have voice in decisions and where they do not
- Internal district communications should explain how district leaders make decisions and the staff expectations.