Children standing in line to have their symptoms checked at school COVID-19 online heath screening

Why Online Health Screening Needs to Be a Part of Your District’s Reopening Plan

Have you ever considered how much physical contact happens on the first day of an average school year?

Teachers high-five students as they enter the building. Students hug friends they missed during summer break. An administrator holds the hand of a lost Kindergartener. The building is packed and chaotic. The whole school may attend an assembly in the cafeteria with everyone squeezed into a single room, like a cafeteria or gym.

The upcoming school year will be completely different. Everyone will be required to wear a mask. Teachers will rearrange classrooms so that students are six feet apart. There will likely be a combination of in-class and online learning. Arrival and dismissal times will be staggered.

And that’s not all.

Many districts will be required to incorporate daily health screenings of students, staff, and visitors on school campuses to monitor for symptoms of COVID-19. On-site health screenings—in addition to other recommended measures—will help keep exposure limited.  

If health screenings are required, then one question remains: How can your school perform staff and student screenings with efficiency to create a safe and healthy learning environment? 

In this post, we’ll explain how a mobile health screening solution helps schools and districts to:

  • Quickly and easily monitor for symptoms of COVID-19
  • Create a record of data to share with government agencies
  • Make data-driven decisions for reopening schools
  • Provide proof to key stakeholders and parents 
  • Save money on paper and reduce paper usage

If your school will be required to check students and staff for symptoms, online health screening makes the process breeze. Here’s why you need to add online health screening to your school reopening plan.

Online Health Screening Tools are the Easiest Way to Monitor COVID-19 Symptoms

Mobile health screening solutions make it possible for authorized staff members to conduct quick symptom checks as other staff members and students enter a school building. 

Fast and Easy Student Health Screening

We built Rapid Health Screener to make the wellness checks process as painless as possible. The solution includes a pre-populated form with the entries from the previous day. If nothing has changed, you can submit it as is; this makes the health screening process far more efficient for everyone involved.

Health screenings aren’t limited to the beginning of the day. Consider all of the transitions your students experience throughout the day. Here are some other instances you may need to incorporate health screenings:

  • Upon entering homeroom
  • Before and after field trips
  • At the beginning of clubs
  • After recess
  • Before and after any athletic practice or game

The Rapid Health Screener from LINQ Registration makes it possible to report on multiple data points for more accurate and well-rounded results. With Rapid Health Screener, you can capture whether someone is experiencing the following:

  • Cough
  • Fever or chills
  • Headache
  • Shortness of breath
  • Sore throat
  • Muscle Aches
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • New loss of smell or taste

The more information you capture, the faster you can catch the beginning stages of COVID-19 in your students and staff. Tracking body temperature alone is not enough.

Digital Records for Reporting

The school receives a time-stamped, digital record for every student and staff member for every notation. These records are stored securely in the cloud. 

Digital health screening records help you meet federal, state, and local requirements. Consider the agencies and organizations that may require reporting:

  • Contact Tracers
  • Your Local Health Board
  • Your state’s Department of Health
  • Insurance Providers
  • Pediatricians
  • Attorneys 

Also, these records can be analyzed by school administrators to help inform critical decisions, like a transition to a new reopening phase, to reverse your opening decisions, or to declare an outbreak in your school. 

Instant Notifications on COVID-19 Symptoms

If your concern is symptoms falling through the cracks, Rapid Health Screener sends instant email alerts when a form includes COVID-19 symptoms. Instant alerts help you to protect others in the school building but also allow you to communicate exposure with parents as quickly as possible.

Why Paper Forms Won’t Work for Onsite Health Screenings

Current recommendations state that school health screenings happen at least once a day, each school day. So, just imagine the amount of paper that would accumulate over the course of a school year! Where do you store it and guarantee that the data is secure?

Just for fun, let’s do a little math lesson*. 

My child’s K-4th elementary school has four classrooms per grade. That’s 20 homeroom classrooms total. Now, let’s assume the school plans to adhere to the CDC recommendation of 12 children in a classroom. 

If the school uses one paper form upon entry, it will accumulate 240 pieces of paper per day for students alone. Now, let’s figure out how much that would be over the course of a school year.  

The average school year is approximately 36 weeks or 180 days. That means a school will use (and have to store) approximately 43,200** additional sheets of paper per year. As I mentioned, this number doesn’t include staff members or visitors.

Paper forms are not a scalable solution for school health screenings because they are:

  • Expensive to create and print
  • Time-consuming to file and use your already limited resources
  • Bulky and take up a lot of space that you may not have
  • Susceptible to the elements and human error
  • Hard to keep secure
  • Not environmentally sustainable

The answer is plain: paper forms will not work for school health screenings. Instead, an online health screening tool is the answer to all of the problems that paper forms pose. 

Rapid Health Screener helps you save on resources and time since there’s no filing required. You save space in your building while ensuring the forms are secure in the cloud.

Now is the Time to Protect Your School

August will be here faster than you think – there’s no time for hesitation where your schools’ health and safety are concerned. District leaders have to shift their thinking quickly using health screening tools to increase regulatory compliance and keep their schools safe.

As you work through your school reopening plan, you’ll likely have some big decisions to make. The current challenges are stressful – no one has faced this adversity in our lifetime. The best you can do is consider tools that will help your school run effectively and empower your staff while keeping everyone healthy. 

Rapid Health Screener has a superfast implementation time, and our K-12 experts perform a complete training with your team – all within two weeks. The time is now. Start building your symptom database now and avoid compliance issues later.  

* I’m not great at math.
** Seriously, these numbers are extreme approximations. Please do your own estimates.


Woman sitting at desk looking at computer screen holding eye glasses in hand k-12 school website accessibility ADA

Is ADA Compliance an Issue for Your K-12 School Website?

Accessibility has long been a concern for K-12 schools.

Educational organizations have always had to consider how to provide equal access to all students, ranging from private testing for those who need it to having school transportation that accommodates wheelchairs. 

School website accessibility and ADA compliance is sometimes forgotten about by educational organizations, but it’s just as essential as physical access. In fact, it’s more important than ever before. As schools move enrollment and learning beyond the walls of the school, your website should be accessible to anyone who needs it.

Many schools work hard to implement the required guidelines for their online presence, but web accessibility is complex. There are extensive requirements involved that often results in certain specifications getting overlooked. When this happens, it limits access to some students, staff, or teachers, and potentially opening you up to ADA lawsuits.

ADA compliance may be an issue for your school site without you even realizing it. In this post, we take a look at what you need to know about ADA compliance and online accessibility, and how to assess what steps you need to take moving forward. 

How Does the ADA Impact K-12 School Websites? 

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) requires that organizations provide equal access to everyone, regardless of disabilities.

ADA compliance includes school websites, which are an increasingly valuable resource for students, parents, and teachers. School sites are now more important than ever, with more schools adjusting to online learning in the face of COVID-19.

If a student is unable to watch instructional videos because there aren’t closed captions and they’re hard of hearing, for example, they’re at an extreme disadvantage.

This would also be the case for students with limited sight who can’t utilize infographic resources without alternative image text, or those who can only use a keyboard on a site that requires a mouse to navigate. 

All schools must maintain full ADA compliance online. That includes:

This may require an overhaul on existing sites in order to incorporate the ADA guidelines into the site’s core foundation. 

How to Determine if Accessibility is an Issue for Your School Website 

If your school site wasn’t created with the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) in mind, there’s a good chance that there are at least portions of your content or site structure that needs updating. 

Review the WCAG guidelines, and conduct a full audit on your site. You can have your internal IT staff handle this, or consult an expert in the industry. 

Make sure there is full implementation of every guideline on every relevant piece of content. It’s not enough to have transcripts or closed captions for most videos; you must offer these for every video published on your site. 

Remember that the technical parts of accessibility like site structure and navigation options are just as important as more visible measures like closed captions in videos.

It’s also important to have your site fully ADA compliant even if there’s no one in your community that you know of who needs every single requirement. 

Common ADA Compliance Accessibility Issues Commonly Affecting School Websites 

When assessing your site for ADA compliance, you should abide by every requirement that ensures accessibility. 

These guidelines are extensive, but there are some ADA compliance violations that are more common. These are the accessibility issues that are most likely to impact users significantly:

  • Transcripts or closed captions must be available for all audio and video files.
  • All non-text content (including images, videos, and audio files) must have alternative text for screen readers.
  • Captions must accompany all live video streaming.
  • Your site structure must be easy to navigate with only a keyboard. 
  • Instructions cannot rely exclusively on sensory characteristics like shape, color, or sound. 
  • You must have a minimum color contrast ratio of 4.5:1, ensuring that your site is easy to distinguish.
  • Your site must have text that can increase in size up to 200%.
  • Headings and labels should be structural, not just decorative.
  • Content (including videos) can’t flash more than three times in one second, and users must have the ability to turn off flashing content. 

Make Your School Website Inclusive with ADA Compliance

Maintaining school website ADA compliance is no easy task. The guidelines can often be overwhelming, especially since you need to maintain these requirements across your entire online presence. 

If you’re unsure about your school site’s accessibility, do a full audit as soon as possible.

If, on the other hand, you know that your site is lacking in multiple accessibility issues, it may be best to start from scratch. Services like LINQ rebuild your site from scratch or offer ready-made, easy-to-customize school websites that come fully ADA compliant. 

You want every member of your community to take advantage of your site, so invest the time and energy to ensuring that this is possible.


Woman typing on laptop computer with smartphone near registration software

Google Forms or Registration Software: Which is Right for K-12 Schools?

Offering online forms for K-12 registration is a no-brainer for a multitude of reasons: they eliminate paper, they save administrative time, and families prefer them too. But how do you choose the right registration software for your district?

If you’re considering online registration forms for your K-12 schools, you might be wondering if you can get away with using a free tool like Google Forms. The answer is: you probably can, but should you? 

The Google suite of free, cloud-based tools helps make our day-to-day easier in both our personal and professional lives.

Google Docs and Sheets allow multiple users to work in a document at the same time. Google Drive offers more storage than we’ll ever need. And Google Forms easily collects information in a survey format.

While Google docs and forms are simple to use and free, you also have the option of software built specifically for K-12 registration. Here are the top items to consider when deciding which is right for your district. 

Convenience

icon of hand snapping with sound portrayed as lines and stars convenient registration software

Online registration forms are just plain convenient. Families can fill out and submit them whenever they want and anywhere there’s an internet connection. Your staff isn’t tasked with a mountain of paperwork to process and all the information is easily accessible in the cloud.

What happens next, however, is the difference.

With Google Forms, you import the data into a spreadsheet upon the completion of registration. Then you’re left with a humongous file that has to be manually imported into your SIS. This action leads to potential data entry errors and a lot of administrative hours (similar to the process if you used paper forms to start with). 

K-12 registration software automatically syncs with your SIS as forms are submitted, saving time and eliminating the potential for errors.

Features

plus sign icon on green dot features registration software

Google Forms helps collect basic information. It has an easy-to-use interface allowing you to create custom (but limited) fields and stores the collected data in a cloud-based spreadsheet, making it a great way to send a quick survey or plan an event.

For an intensive process like K-12 registration that has hundreds or thousands of submissions and large amounts of data, you might need a little more out of your tool.

Here is a list of features you gain by investing in an online registration software.

Payment Collection: Gather payments within registration, streamlining the process and improving your collection rate. 

Analytics: Dynamically create custom reports on submission data in real-time.

Custom Fields: Create registration fields customized for your K-12 school without limits on length.

Language Options: Offer the option for registration forms to be presented in multiple languages.

SIS Data Integration: Seamlessly integrate registration forms with your SIS so that data is automatically uploaded.

Notifications: Automatically notify returning students and families when it’s time for registration.

Cost

piggy bank icon with coin falling in on green dot registration software

Free is good. Everyone loves free stuff. Tools like Google Forms and Google Sheets are completely free and they work really, really well.

It can be difficult to imagine spending a portion of your budget on something that could be done for free. We get it. Plus, you can absolutely make K-12 registration work with Google Forms. 

Here’s the thing. How does the cost of K-12 registration software compare to weeks and weeks of administrative pay for manual data entry? Not to mention the other features you gain from a tool made for school registration like payment collection.

You’ve got options; weigh your costs to help decide what’s best for your district.

While paying for convenience (and a lot of other cool features) is an investment, it doesn’t have to break the bank. Right now, Registration Gateway is offering a Rapid Registration package, a turn-key solution that grows with your district. 

Security

lock icon on green dot security registration software

When gathering sensitive information about students, security is of the utmost importance. This is especially true with cyber attacks on K-12 schools more than doubling year over year

Data becomes vulnerable when it’s downloaded into an accessible spreadsheet and then changes hands for manual entry.

During the registration process, private student data and payment information are collected. This data should be treated exactly the way it is when it’s in your SIS: only accessible via single, permission-based logins and nestled safely behind firewall protection.

The bottom line is hosting an unprotected spreadsheet on a staff member’s computer with multiple hands manually inputting data is a security risk.

Using online registration forms with built-in security mitigates your risk and you can rest easy knowing all sensitive information is being automatically funneled into your secure SIS.

Support

hands shaking icon on green dot support registration software

Gaining customer support is another huge benefit of a paid service over a free service in nearly all scenarios. Online registration software providers like Registration Gateway have a team of people who guide you through product onboarding. They then serve as your day-to-day contact thereafter. 

We never want to think about a scenario where technology goes terribly wrong at the worst possible moment, but it happens. When it does, having an account manager or customer support team to call makes all the difference. 

Free or Paid Registration Software: Choose Your Own Adventure!

Google Forms is a fantastic tool for gathering basic information such as names, email addresses and phone numbers.

The forms are super simple to create and use. They make collaboration easy and eliminate the need for paper forms. For use cases like volunteer forms or surveys, Google Forms might be your go-to option. 

On the other hand, online registration form tools like Registration Gateway come with a robust set of features specifically built to manage registration for K-12 schools.

Plus, you gain other benefits too like improving user experience, getting paid faster, streamlining administrative tasks in a centralized platform, and gaining insights from data in real-time. 

K-12 registration has a lot of moving parts, includes sensitive student information, and has the potential to be crazily time-consuming.

Selecting a solution that reduces administrative work and includes accessible support could make this the year for seamless and stress-free K-12 registration. 


Family sitting in their living room doing something on a computer online school registration social distancing rapid registration CTA
Family sitting in their living room doing something on a computer online school registration social distancing

How to Get K-12 School Registration Done During Social Distancing


It’s time to prepare for school registration, except the process looks completely different than it ever has before.

In the U.S., tens of thousands of K-12 schools nationwide have temporarily closed their doors and many are planning to remain closed through the end of the school year. 

Typically, a district would have months to develop detailed registration plans and even test an online registration process prior to going live.

However, in these times of uncertainty and social distancing, moving to online registration is the right thing to do to ensure the health and safety of students and school staff.

With the following tips in mind, your K-12 schools can quickly implement online registration while keeping everyone safe and healthy.

Keep It Simple

Now is not the time to overwhelm families with long forms and gobs of details. Keeping registration simple means families can register sooner and without having to call someone for assistance (but you should always give them someone to call). Be helpful but straightforward, and only ask for the information you have to have.

In addition to keeping registration concise, consider the experience from a point of view where you’ve never seen this process before. Could the fee structure be more clear? Are the next steps obvious? Starting with a step-by-step guide, including a list of FAQ’s and a description of fees will make your kindergarten registration process intuitive and seamless.

Move The Entire K-12 Registration Process Online

Many families will prefer completing the K-12 registration process online versus in-person because of the convenience factor alone. In this time where social distancing is so important, offering online registration is even more necessary. 

With the right registration software, it’s easy to set up. You can even use document management so that families can upload digital scans of essential paperwork such as shot records. 

Here are some reasons why online registrations is how your district needs to approach the process during mandated social distancing.

It’s 100% Paperless

Did you know that COVID-19 can live on paper for up to 24 hours? When districts move to online registration, there are no papers being exchanged. All necessary documents are easily uploaded by parents, so there’s no need for physical copies of birth certificates or shot records. This keeps your staff and families safe in their homes while decreasing the possibility for anyone becoming ill.

Quick and Easy Set Up

School registrations for the upcoming year need to happen soon, so a quick turnaround is the ticket. Look for a turn-key solution, like Rapid Registration, where the remote training of your staff and the implementation of the tool can all be completed within two weeks.  

SIS Integration

Speaking of time savings, the information collected with online registration forms is automatically delivered right to your student information system. This virtually eliminates the need for manual data entry and increases the speed of the entire enrollment process.

Clean and Accurate Data

With paper forms, important pieces of  information can be illegible or inaccurate. Worse yet, vital form fields can be left blank. All of these problems create extra work for your staff. Data accuracy increases immensely when schools move to online registration.

Parents are unable to move forward in the enrollment process without adding any required information or documents. No more skipped form fields!

Safe and Secure Data

Paper student registration forms are loaded with personal information. It’s also easy for paper forms to become lost and wind up in the wrong hands.

K-12 school districts need a solution that provides airtight security measures to ensure their students are protected from leaks. Look for an enrollment solution where security is guaranteed.  

It’s Accessible Anywhere

Many schools and districts are operating remotely to keep children, families and staff healthy. For a registration tool to be effective–especially when staff is working from home–you need a tool that is web-based and easy to manage from any location.

In addition, parents must be able to register their children from any device at any location. A web-based solution meets both of these challenges.

Conclusion

School registration is a special time for families, and some may have anxiety over registering their child during such unique global circumstances.

Be mindful that this can be an emotional time for parents. Adapt your messaging to be supportive and helpful. Keep the process as easy as possible for all involved.

Providing informative resources that point toward simple, streamlined online registration and payment is the ultimate way to make for a smooth online school registration.

Start as early as possible and get the district, parents, and students ready for another successful school year.


Family sitting in their living room doing something on a computer online school registration social distancing rapid registration CTA
Empty K-12 school classroom resources for schools during Coronavirus outbreak

The Best Resources for K-12 Schools During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Spring break plans are imploding, essential supplies are disappearing, and even major events and attractions are closing up shop because of Coronavirus (COVID-19).

This is an anxious time for districts, students and families all over the world. With so many unknowns about the virus, it can be difficult to make predictions for even the near feature. 

Here is what we do know:

  • COVID-19 is contagious and can be serious if contracted.
  • The health and safety of students and school staff is the most important priority. It is always, always better to be safe than sorry.
  • That it’s extremely important that our population stay calm.

What can you do to keep your district safe and ensure that their best interests are at the top of  your mind?

In this post, we tell you exactly what you can do and point you towards reliable resources that are constantly being updated so you are always in the know on all things COVID-19.

Watch for Symptoms

K-12 school staff, students and families should be cognizant of what COVID-19 is, what symptoms to watch for, and how it differs from the flu or a cold. 

The main differences are incubation period, symptoms, how they spread, and the average duration. This chart from the CDC depicts a comparison of COVID-19 vs. other common sicknesses.

Source: Medium.com

Prevent Spreading

Cold and flu viruses can survive for 15 to 20 minutes on skin and a couple hours on hard surfaces. COVID-19 is estimated to survive on surfaces for a few days. This is why it is so important to take all known measures to prevent spreading during this time: 

  • Mandate a strict policy: anyone who is sick or who has traveled to an affected area needs to stay home.
  • Teach students to cough and sneeze into their elbows and properly wash their hands for 20 seconds or more.
  • Cancel large gatherings such as assemblies or field trips.
  • Limit all physical contact.
  • Regularly sanitize all surfaces such as doorknobs, countertops and toys.
  • Add sanitizing stations anywhere it makes sense.
  • Require mandatory handwashing after visiting different areas like the lunchroom or the hallway.

Constantly Communicate with Parents and Families

Have a communications plan and update families non-stop. Updates should include information about outbreaks in your area, closure and attendance policies, and notifications to watch for.

Use your website, mobile app (if you have one), email newsletters, and social media profiles to regularly communicate and be clear when they can expect future updates. It can also be helpful to work up a resource like this Parent Guide from the Washington Office of Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Your goal is to keep everyone calm and reassure families and students that the district is heavily monitoring the virus and is taking every possible measure to keep them safe and healthy.

Have a Contingency Plan 

At this point, a few statewide school closures have been made official. Many other states and districts are taking a watch-and-see approach. Whatever you decide, create a plan in the event you do need to close schools. It should include:

  • School meal availability now and during the closure
  • Attendance expectations and makeup days in the event of a closure
  • How to conduct classes or conferences remotely
  • Kindergarten and school registration timing
  • The impact of a closure on testing and assessments
  • If applicable, information and instructions for online learning
  • Childcare options if they apply

Again, communication is key. Once you’ve drafted a plan, include it in your Parent Guide, other notification channels and get it to teachers — then, do it again any time there is a change.

Read, Follow and Share These Reliable Resources 

From the CDC

Coronavirus Disease Situation Summary

Environmental Cleaning and Disinfection Recommendations

Coronavirus FAQ’s

Guidance for School Settings

Checklist for Teachers & Parents

Talking with Children About Coronavirus

Locations with Confirmed Cases

Communication Resources


Educating on symptoms to watch for and enforcing every preventative measure in the book are great ways to keep your district healthy. 

Most importantly, stay calm and in the know. Watch for the latest updates like new school meals flexibility, keep in touch with your local health officials, and communicate all new findings to staff and families.

Be cautious, but know that you have support and resources to keep your district safe and sound.

Woman on her phone by a computer keyboard online registration k-12 school enrollment

6 Reasons Online Registration is the Answer to K-12 Enrollment


The window for K-12 enrollment is very small. Yet, it’s a process for which administrators prepare for year-around. To create a successful school year, you need quick, clean and reliable data.

No matter how early you kick off the enrollment process, it seems like every year there is a last-minute sprint to the finish line causing utter chaos for your team and the parents. This leads to missing forms, incorrect information, and overworked staff.

The experience is stressful and inefficient for all parties involved. Once again, you’re left in the dark without the data you need until it’s rectified and manually input into your system by hand.

That’s why districts nationwide are switching to online registration. Online K-12 enrollment digitizes paper forms, collecting all the information you need while streamlining the data in an organized, secure database.

Here are six ways online registration optimizes the enrollment process and makes for a better experience for families and your team.

Online Registration is faster. Way faster.

Did you know that filling out digital forms is 40% faster than paper forms? It’s true! Forms that include auto-populated fields, drop-down lists, and validation checks help the user input the correct information the first time. 

If districts provide a quick and painless registration process, parents will enroll their child earlier, especially since online registration is so accessible. They can access open enrollment on any web or mobile device using the internet. That means you get results sooner than you would with manual registrations. 

Families become engaged sooner and with ease.

Another notable benefit: once parents have a login to your system, you can send them automatic reminders to update student records any time. When students are registered once, you can use your reporting dashboard to trigger a reminder to update student information for the following year. 

You can also keep parents informed of special announcements or provide them with a way to schedule an appointment with you. This is a valuable tool for open K-12 enrollment; It streamlines the enrollment process for returning students while also keeping families informed.

It also provides parents the opportunity for one-on-one conversations with you or your team if they need more assistance.

You get your hands on data earlier and in real-time.

Faster online registration means you get the valuable data you need early so you can put on your forecasting hat and start planning. You also get the information in real-time.

Manual forms guarantee you’ll receive monstrous stacks of paper from parents on the last day. This leaves you with zero insight until after enrollment closes.

With online registration, the data is more accessible too. All the information is in the cloud, stored safely in the exact organizational structure you prefer. No more digging through file cabinets, all you need is internet access and your password. 

It’s a major resource saver.

Moving registration online will reduce supply costs when on paper, printing and postage. In fact, 84% of organizations that go paperless see a return on investment in less than 18 months.

It’s great for the environment too, and more than half of consumers prefer to support environmentally conscious organizations. 

Perhaps the greatest way online registration saves resources is with administrative costs. Administrators no longer manually input data into your system from paper forms. This cuts down on time spent correcting errors at a later time.

Online registration is tailored to your audience.

When you implement an online registration solution, it’s tailored to your district and audience.

With online registration platforms like Registration Gateway, you can build custom forms online including the fields you select. Providing clear instructions upfront and continuously updating your forms to be organized and easy to understand will increase the likelihood that they’ll be submitted correctly the first time. 

Online registration forms are also much more inclusive. They have customizable drop-down fields with multilingual options. Parents can select the language they’re most comfortable with upfront and once submitted, administrators can translate the information back to English or the language they prefer.

Student data is more secure.

Manual registration opens you up to endless vulnerabilities. Paperwork often changes hands multiple times. Students may leave forms where they shouldn’t, or lose them altogether. Stacks of forms that include sensitive information are a major security hazard and should be avoided.

Online enrollment eliminates paper altogether.

Many platforms offer online payment collection, too. Online registration keeps student and payment information safe behind secure systems that only authorized personnel can access.

Wrapping Up

Online registration has eliminated the need for outdated paper forms for K-12 enrollment, and for good reason. There are very clear benefits to incorporating online enrollment: accurate data, cost savings, increased security, and control over your district’s data. The list goes on and on. 

If you’re looking for happier parents and staff and faster results with enhanced insight into your data, digitizing paper forms is the solution you’ve been looking for. Make this the year you go paperless and enjoy a stress-free K-12 enrollment period. 

Three teenage girls looking at a smartphone on stairs at school edtech trends 2020

The 6 Hottest Edtech Trends to Expect in 2020

A great deal has changed in the education field in the last decade, especially with the emergence of newer and more useful technologies.

Increasing numbers of schools are looking for cutting-edge tools that can help them better manage their administration work, connect with parents, and deliver only the best experience to their students. 

The Hottest Edtech Trends for 2020

The edtech industry has seen some incredible developments in the past few years, and as we’re moving into 2020, you can expect to see certain trends popping up, especially in terms of what parents expect and what the top-of-the-line tools can offer.

If you’re wondering what edtech trends you should watch most closely in 2020, keep reading; we’ll cover the hottest trends in 2020 that you may want to consider investing in. 

Online Payment Processing 

Gone are the days when parents have two options before them: Break a sweat entrusting their child to deliver a check or cash to the school without losing it, or make an inconvenient trip in themselves to make sure it gets where it needs to go.

Online ordering and payment tools are one of the biggest edtech trends in 2020, and you should strongly consider adapting to a system that offers this. 

Consider everything that parents need to pay for during the school year. Even in public schools systems parents need to pay for school breakfasts or lunches, field trips, after school programs, and extracurricular fees like for band or sports.

Private schools come with the added costs of tuition on top of everything else. Both types of school systems often require ongoing payments, which is frustrating for parents if they need to deliver it in-person with cash or check.

Online payment apps are easy and convenient LINQ even offers parents the option for automated payments. These payment tools accept credit cards, too, which can provide invaluable financial wiggle room for parents if the budget is a little tight.

And last but not least, online payments are seamless and efficient. Your staff won’t need to worry about misplacing a check, or having cash fall out of an unidentified envelope. Everything is automatic, reducing their workload and the potential for human error. 

Online School Registrations 

Online school registrations are more commonplace than they used to be. In 2020 it’s nearing the point of becoming a requirement, especially with some of the advanced technology that’s being released.

Online school registrations offer many of the same benefits as the online payment processing tools: It’s convenient for parents and administrators, and online forms means that the risk of human error decreases.

All completed forms are entered automatically filed into the Cloud-based storage, and is easily accessible at any point for your administration.

There are additional benefits that are hard to ignore, too. Online registration is easily accessible, especially with tools that allow parents to instantly access the forms in different languages. 

There’s also significantly less paperwork involved, resulting in a greener and more cost-efficient process. At the same time, you decrease the amount of labor required from your administrative staff to file an enormous library of forms.

Save money, cut back on labor, and reduce your carbon footprint at the same time. 

Integrated Cloud-Based Finance & HR Software 

Integrated finance and HR software is one of the latest and greatest trends in edtech, and you can expect to see it more in 2020. 

The HR and finance departments have a lot of overlap, especially with tasks like payroll and fund allocation. a single tool that helps you manage both streamlines your processes.

Cloud-based is another key part of the equation here. Cloud-based software is incredibly secure, protecting all of your school’s sensitive data, including things like:

  • your employee’s personal information 
  • social security numbers 
  • bank account information

Using a Cloud-based software also increases the convenience factor, allowing only those with permission to access the files on or off campus.

Digital Ordering & Inventory Management 

The biggest focus of school systems is on educating the students in your care. having all the supplies needed to do that falls squarely on your administration staff. 

New textbooks. Workbooks. Enough food for daily breakfasts and lunches. Supplies for the chemistry class, athletic equipment for the gym, jerseys and uniforms for school teams. And this is only a small part of it.

When you’re choosing edtech tools for 2020, look for software that offers digital ordering and inventory management in one integrated tool. LINQ’s Nutrition solution, for example, has menu planning and management features, making it easy for you to order what you need and keep track of what you’ve already got. 

Mobile Tech & Apps

Mobile is the way of the future. There’s no getting around that. Mobile usage has increased year-over-year ever since it first rolled out, and that’s not changing anytime soon. 

Ensuring that as many of your systems as possible are mobile-friendly is the way to go in 2020. This includes tools for administration, teachers, parents, and students alike. Double check your website.

Is it fully functional on mobile, and relatively easy to use? Can students check their homework at the very least, and can parents process payments through their phone in case they forget the lunch money until after they’re already out the door? 

You can stick to the basics of being mobile-friendly, but you can get creative with it, too. Colleges and universities in particular could consider creating apps to help students track bus schedules, check in with their clubs, or monitor their financial aid payouts. 

Artificial Intelligence Education Tools 

The biggest focus in edtech in 2020 really is on administrative tools that impact school management, but there’s one that’s all about the student learning experience: Artificial Intelligence education tools.

The learning tools available to schools are advancing quickly, and they’re also becoming more accessible. They can help students receive more personalized learning experiences in the classroom at a level that simply isn’t possible when you have one teacher to every student. 

AI tutoring systems are rapidly being developed that provide students with extra care and attention in the areas where they need it most. 

When learning how to balance chemical equations, some students are stumped on how to break down certain chemicals, while others are confused by the entire principle. Artificial intelligence tutoring tools can flag mistakes as students make them, allowing them to identify mistakes faster and adjust accordingly. 

Learning-based artificial intelligence tools are gaining a ton of attention in the edtech world, so you can expect to see more developments here in 2020. 

The Takeaway 

When you look at the six hottest edtech trends for 2020, you’ll notice a clear pattern: The biggest focus is on providing administrators with the tools they need to make their jobs easier and the tasks they do more efficient.

This is largely because it not only improves the administration’s day-to-day life at work, but has a trickle-down effect that improves the students’, parents’, and teachers’ experience, too. 


Interested in learning more about Registration Gateway and LINQ education solutions and how we’re already on top of these edtech trends? Learn more here.

K-12 School Enrollment: 5 Ways to Make It Better Than Ever


K-12 school enrollment is a chaotic time of year for everyone involved, resulting in administrators and parents scrambling to complete the process.

Sometimes parents save enrollment for the last minute, forms can be difficult to understand, and critical information is missing or not available.

While your school gears up for the beginning of the new year, it’s a great time to research tools to improve the enrollment process. An easy enrollment process is a game changer for parents and administrators alike. 

Fortunately, there are five easy ways to make the process better and more efficient than ever, and the right software can help you tackle each one. 

Use Paperless to Streamline Re-Enrollment 

Paperless enrollment is becoming more and more prevalent in K-12 school systems. Not only is this a greener, more cost-effective option for your school, but it’s more convenient for everyone involved. 

Paperless, online forms are turned in on time and submitted with fewer mistakes and inconsistencies because of their added convenience.

Make Your K-12 School Enrollment Forms Organized & Easy to Follow 

We’ve all filled out school enrollment forms at some point that left us scratching our heads in confusion; you don’t want this to be the case for yours. 

Double check that all of your forms are updated, organized and include clear instruction.

Is it easy to understand which sections of each form need to be completed? Are the questions clear and easy to understand, or do they have accidentally ambiguous wording?

A paperless enrollment system helps here. Parents receive the exact forms the school requires for enrollment. The system then guides them through the forms. If a parent leaves out any required information, the system alerts them so they are able to complete the enrollment process.

Create Enrollment Packets in Multiple Languages 

While almost all schools operate with English as a first language in the United States, this doesn’t mean that English is everyone’s first language.

It’s estimated that as many as 9.5% of public school students are enrolled in English language learners in 2018. This means that there are plenty of parents who may not be fluent in English themselves.

Having enrollment forms available in multiple languages increases the accessibility of the process significantly, welcoming parents of all backgrounds.

Forms are more accurate when parents are able to understand exactly what you’re asking for, giving the students equal footing as they’re starting their new year. 

Online registration software like Registration Gateway bridges this gap. You can purchase enrollment packages in different languages, and then have them available online during the registration process.

The landing page featuring the enrollment packets will have a drop-down menu allowing parents to view the forms in the language they speak. 

Offer Online Payment Options

You don’t want parents to have to make a special trip into the school’s office with a check or (even worse) send it with their overeager-but-slightly-forgetful eight-year-old.

If your school or any of its programs require upfront fees or payment, make sure that there’s an online payment system available.

Online payment systems are fully secure, protecting your school and the financial information of the parents making the payments. Checks and cash are both at high-risk payment options – they’re both easy to misplace. Online payments are notably more secure than checks or cash.

An online system allows parents pay with credit card, which is much more convenient than digging out the checkbook or making a special trip to an ATM.

This convenience is particularly important when parents are looking at multiple fees at the start of the year; keeping up with payments for prepaid meals, the after school program, and the chorus field trip can be exhausting for anyone. 

At Registration Gateway, we partner and offer full integration with payment processors like efunds to collect payments securely and conveniently for everyone involved. 

Provide Information to Mitigate Expectations 

It’s not uncommon for parents to submit enrollment forms and then immediately wonder “what’s next.”

Offer up next-steps so parents have clear expectations of the process (and staff avoids an onslaught of phone calls). If you have a wait list to get into your school, explain how the process works. 

It’s essential to clearly outline each of the steps parents must take to complete the process. Let them know the following: If parents need to take any next steps to finalize their child’s enrollment,

  • The steps parents must take finalize enrollment;
  • How they complete those steps;
  • And when those steps must be completed.

In addition, share information like the start date for the school year or a list of school supplies to purchase. 

Takeaway 

The school enrollment process isn’t exactly one that most people look forward to. But having an online enrollment system can make it as painless and efficient as possible for everyone involved.

You can make the enrollment more convenient while reducing the workload required from your team and cut back on incorrect information.

Going green and saving everyone a little bit of time to start the year on a good note: How can you say no to that?


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This is How Online Registrations will Transform Your School

When it comes to school administration, registrations can be one of the most chaotic times of the year.

The sheer amount of information being received is overwhelming in its own right, especially when the majority of that data is accurate and contains sensitive information about the students themselves.

Online registrations are a game changer for school systems, offering a digitized, streamlined process for enrolling students in your school.

Using an online system means less waste, more accurate data, and happier parents, students, and administrators, and in this post, we’ll show you how.

Less Waste of Resources 

When registrations are submitted and processed online, there’s an enormous burden lifted off the shoulders of your administrators that prevents a massive waste of resources — including time.

Online registrations can be submitted from anywhere, so you don’t need staff members on-hand to accept and process the forms.

This saves your staff time, and it saves you money. You can either reduce the number of hours that your staff works, or allocate those hours to more valuable and essential tasks.

There’s no need to file physical paperwork, freeing up an enormous amount of space in the school and reducing the carbon footprint of your school.

When you consider that around $200k is spent on paper by the average school annually (costing around $3-4k per month for paper, ink, and toner), this is an enormous cost savings.

It’s estimated that 28 million sheets of paper are used by the average school district annually, so being able to cut down on even a small percentage of can go a long way to making your school a little more eco-friendly, too. 

More Accurate Student Data 

Having accurate, reliable information on all of your students is important. Health or safety concerns are an issue once you factor in things like…

  • Updated vaccination records;
  • Learning disabilities that require additional needs;
  • Emergency contact information;
  • Student transportation information.

With online registrations, student data is more accurate. Parents submit student information directly online. Once a year, parents verify or update the data. That’s it!

Parents are much more likely to keep these online forms updated and to do so in a timely manner than physical paperwork, which is easily lost before it ever reaches the parent in the first place.

And, since parents have access to the system in real-time to update any information, you won’t have people waiting until the beginning of a new year to come in to update the paperwork.

It’s fast, easy, and convenient for everyone involved.

Online Registrations = Happier Parents

We’re all busy, but parents really have their hands full. Many are trying to balance their careers, households, social lives, and parenting all in one.

If something is inconvenient, it falls to the bottom of the to-do list. It’s a nuisance for parents to dredge up time to make a special trip to the school to update paperwork or submit registration information. They’ve just got too much on their plates.

Online registrations result in happier parents. They’re able to complete the forms at home (or wherever) and at a time that’s convenient for them (read: after the kids go to bed at 8!). This ensures registrations are submitted before the deadline.

When the registration process is online, it’s much easier for parents to fit it into their schedule.

An added bonus: Parents have immediate control and access over their child’s records. Logging in and keeping records up-to-date is a non-issue with online registrations.

More Streamlined Process for Administrators

You want parents to be happy, but it’s even more important for school administrators to be happy! Online registrations streamline the process for administrators like nothing else will.

Your staff has instant access to the database to see who has registered. This provides ample opportunity to reach out to those who still need to submit the forms.

Student information is easy to access, like which students have special needs. Easily misplaced or incorrectly filed information is accessed without rifling through filing cabinets or chasing down paperwork.

To sweeten the deal even more, admins have  access to documents remotely even if they aren’t in the office. This allows staff to take their work home with them when needed.

Ability to Translate Documents into Different Languages

Something goes overlooked in school systems is that fact that not all parents are native English speakers.

In fact, a recent survey from Pew Research Center found that 9.5% of students in the United States take English learning classes. So, there’s a high probability their parents aren’t fluent or are learners, too. 

Online registration software like Registration Gateway offers non-English speaking parents the ability to translate documents into the language they’re most comfortable speaking. 

The paperwork becomes instantly more accessible, and once submitted, administrators can  translate it back into the language they speak.

It’s a win-win for everyone involved, including the students. They deserve equal footing when it comes to their education.

Information Security and Data Control

Unfortunately, paper registrations aren’t the most secure option. These forms are easily  misplaced or lost, both on the way to the school and even within the school itself. 

Accidents happen, as hard as we may try to avoid them. The result is sensitive student information — including social security numbers, health records, and school performance — becoming vulnerable to security risks.

Digitized school records require a designated login that’s protected by a password, so only those with clearance have access to the files.

Sensitive information is simply more secure in digital form than on paper. It doesn’t hurt that digital forms are difficult to damage or corrupt; if the school caught fire, the paper registrations would burn. And a break-in could result in the files being stolen outright.

And yet, in either of those scenarios, digital data is left untouched.

Takeaway

School administrators and parents alike have so much to keep up with that streamlining important processes like registration is a solid choice.

Online registrations are easy to use, convenient, and save money by reducing the time and resources needed to take in and accept the information.

Everyone’s lives improve from the use of online registrations. And the students themselves benefit from having data that’s up-to-day, secure, and accessible by those who need it to serve them best.

Interested in learning more about how you can start setting up an online registration system for your school? See what we can do for you here


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two hands typing on a computer with a green overlay online student registrations

Manual or Online Student Registrations: Which is Safest?

 

We know that safeguarding your students’ data is a high priority. From birth dates to phone numbers to home addresses and grades – student records are a treasure trove of sensitive information. But if your school or district still relies on manual processes over online student registrations, you are exposed to a gamut of risks. 

Switching to an online registration solution reduces risks like misplaced student files and data entry errors. It also helps both parents and staff make the registration process paperless, secure, and efficient.  Continue reading Manual or Online Student Registrations: Which is Safest?

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