4 ways digital tools streamline summer program administration
Summer learning programs are even more critical this year in the wake of COVID's impact on learning, and digital tools can help ensure efficiency
Summer school is more important than ever this year as school administrators establish new learning programs to give K–12 students an opportunity to catch up on schoolwork and enrichment programs they missed during the pandemic. The federal government is also paying extra attention to summer programs, earmarking $1.2 billion in its massive relief package.
By the end of the 2020–2021 academic year, most U.S. schools were open, but administrators are still taking precautions to mitigate potential virus outbreaks among staff and students. This will be the norm for the foreseeable future since vaccines are widely available for staff and older children but haven’t yet been approved for younger kids.
Last year, teachers and school administrators adopted digital tools in greater numbers than ever before. Companies offering tools like online forms saw a spike in demand, and they are now seeing it rise again as schools organize summer learning programs.
Here are four ways digital tools are helping educators get summer learning programs, instructors, and students ready:
- Registration forms and secure payment integrations: Instead of signing up students in person and handling payments for events and merchandise manually, administrators are using digital forms. Schools can brand the forms for a professional look and feel, and once administrators create a custom template, they can reuse it for other purposes. It’s a good idea to select digital registration and payment forms that work on desktop, tablet and mobile devices while enabling encrypted payment through trusted sources.
- Scheduling forms to control class size: Because many children aren’t eligible for vaccination yet and personal attention is at a premium, it’s crucial to schedule activities in a way that minimizes contact and controls class size. Class scheduling can be difficult to track manually, but online appointment planning forms can help instructors schedule times without conflicts and/or prevent overcrowding. A digital reservation form that shows only available slots is ideal; this type of form can also help summer program administrators gather pertinent information about attendees in advance to tailor instruction.
- Medical data and safety screening forms: Summer program administrators routinely collect medical information on students, such as data on allergies, prescribed medications, emergency contacts, and the name of the family doctor or pediatrician. Using HIPAA-compliant digital forms makes securing and storing such confidential information easier. This year, many schools are also collecting self-screening forms to evaluate the ongoing risk posed by the pandemic. The CDC recommends coronavirus vaccinations for children 12 years and older, but until the virus is fully under control, it’s important to ask staff, faculty and students for health information. Digital forms make it simple to collect this information and any other health details needed from students.
- Digital assessment forms: Differing levels of student preparedness are always a challenge for instructors. Teachers have to balance remedial work for students who haven’t mastered the basics with more challenging work for students who have. The pandemic has exacerbated this situation. Students who had more resources and support for remote learning may have kept up while those with fewer educational resources fell behind. Digital assessment tools can help summer school program administrators and instructors get a more accurate view of where each student falls on the readiness curve, which means educators can develop a custom plan that meets all of their students’ needs.
We don’t yet know the pandemic’s full effect on education, but it will be far-reaching across all grades. Educators, administrators, staff, and students had to go from in-person instruction to virtual learning quickly, and while everyone did the best they could, the sudden disruption left many students struggling. Summer school this year represents an opportunity for educators to close the gap, particularly for at-risk students.
This raises the stakes for summer school programs, but additional funding from the federal government can help educators and administrators rise to the occasion, just as they have throughout the pandemic. By using digital tools that can help the school pinpoint educational needs, collect data and fees, and keep students and staff safe, summer schools can streamline program administration and provide more attention to the students they serve.