Parent and Family Engagement During Covid-19

It’s September, and we are still in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic.  Some schools are back in traditional settings, some are in virtual, and some are in hybrid mode.  Some schools have delayed opening.  It is certainly strange times, isn’t it?  As a  superintendent friend of mine has said, the word for the year is “flexibility.”  He is preaching this word with faculty, staff, and students, and it is a good word.  We all have to be flexible with the ever-changing rules and guidance.  One thing that has not changed or been waived (at this point) is the requirement for parent and family engagement in federal programs.  So what can we do to meet the parent and family engagement requirements in a meaningful way?

The parent and family engagement requirements require the district Parent and Family Engagement Policy, school Parent and Family Engagement Plans, and Compacts be reviewed and revised annually with parent input.  If one doesn’t want to hold an in-person meeting due to space limitations for social distancing or fear of virus transmission, consider holding a virtual meeting via Zoom, Google Meets, or similar platform.  Often participation increases in this format.  Attach the current policy, plan, and/or compact to the email invitation.  Some suggestions for evidence of the meeting include:  save the meeting invitations and email confirmations, record the meeting, make a screen shot of the participants, and have your agenda and minutes.

The Title I Annual Meeting is another requirement that has not yet been waived.  The Annual Meeting is the time when much of the required Title information is disseminated.   Fulfilling this requirement takes some creativity if the school is not holding open house or hosting any meetings at the school.  Consider a virtual Annual Meeting.  This can be done live through FaceTime Live, Zoom, Google Meets or other platform.  Record the meeting and post on the school and district website, screenshot attendees, keep evidence of the invitations and publicity of the meeting.  Another suggestion is to video the principal presenting the necessary information and post to social media and school websites.  Some districts have created Title I brochures which are made available on social media and school websites.

Remember that all the Title I parent notifications must still be provided to all parents.  This includes the Parent and Family Engagement Plan, Compact, and Parent Right-to-Know.  These items can be sent home with students, but it is suggested that they also be place on social media and the district/school website.  Take screenshots of the social media and website postings for your monitoring evidence.

As we go through this school year, remember flexibility is necessary for all of us.  Our requirements and waivers change from one minute to the next.  Let’s make it a point to offer grace rather than anger and frustration when we are faced with another change or new requirement.  This is a new world for everyone!

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