MSD administration has adapted the way they get information home to students and parents in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Graphic by Melodie Vo
The Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School administration has continued to work on different methods of communication that accommodate parents of students who are both learning in person and online. The COVID-19 pandemic has made communicating with students and parents more challenging since the school’s student body is now divided between staying at home and coming face-to-face on campus.
In response to the pandemic, MSD was fully online for the first quarter of the school year. Now, in the second and third quarters, students have the option to attend school in person or virtually. This means that administration has had to alter the way they distribute information to students and parents to reach everyone effectively.
“We have been trying to use a variety of different formats in order to communicate in this whole eLearning environment. One of the ones that is most common is Canvas,” guidance director Veronica Ziccardi said.
The school uses multiple methods to communicate with students and parents. Before the pandemic, guidance counselors, faculty members and teachers used methods like phone calls home, in-class announcements and hard copies of flyers and forms to inform students and parents.
Now that more students have chosen to stay home, administration has moved away from those procedures. Instead, they have become reliant on other forms of distributing information and paperwork, with the exception of a phone call sent out every Friday by Principal Michelle Kefford.
Other effective methods put into use include constant updates on the school website. This way, important forms, like this year’s course cards, can be accessed easily online.
Platforms such as Canvas and Remind have been the main ways administrators remind and inform students and parents about upcoming events. Each grade level has their own Remind and Canvas page for their specific events, volunteer opportunities, reminders and activities.
Additionally, the guidance department has their own Canvas page to send all students important information about required forms, college, scholarship opportunities, state testing, service hours and more. The page also provides their contact information to schedule meetings or ask questions.
This year, Canvas has been the most prevalent tool as all students have access to the resource and use it for all schoolwork. Students also use Naviance, a college helper tool for topics like future career options or scholarship opportunities.
While there are many methods of communication with a variety of information, some parents have shown concern saying it is a lot to keep up with and digest.
“Parents do not have time to sit through one or two hours of information to find anything useful to them or their teen,” Susan Branson, mother of sophomore Sadie Branson, said. “It would be helpful if the counselors were able to help kids try to find a career path. Perhaps they could talk to kids about new and emerging careers and divide them into talks [with] various disciplines so that the kids could join the ones they may be interested in.”
Career paths are something that is not as focused on in school as other subjects. However, parents do have the resource of Naviance to guide them. A downside is that looking through everything and making decisions as important as future plans is a hard process, one that many parents want special assistance with that cannot be provided on a website.
Emails are a frequent resource sent to all parents as it allows the staff to inform parents about events that students see on their Canvas pages. These emails further cover what has been addressed in phone calls or Remind messages.
“I think the school has done a great job in making sure I receive information about my child and the school by sending out emails, text messages, and leaving voice messages,” Mandy Moncayo, mother of sophomore Samantha Moncayo, said.
Another way administration communicates with parents and students is through virtual parent nights. These were heavily utilized during the first quarter of the school year as students were still fully online and parents were in need of information.
These discussions were held on Microsoft Teams, where different administrators are available to help participants on important upcoming events, like with SAT and ACT testing. The meetings also educated parents on the different things they need to know about their students and what resources were available.
For instance, the 2021-2022 Course Card Information Night on Jan. 25 explained how to fill out the form and where to access it. At this event, questions were answered to make everything clear since course cards were previously hard copies given to students in class on campus.
Moreover, in November, there were parent nights for each grade level regarding the start of the school year. Again, on Jan. 28, there was a parent night for the incoming freshmen of the 2021-2022 school year.
For information about students login information or Remind/Canvas codes, those who need assistance can follow the links on the school’s website.