If you're already familiar with the general process of messaging guardians, this article will cover some of the finer points.
TABLE OF CONTENTS
- Message Visibility
- Logging Communication Records
- Group Messages
- Replies Allowed/Not Allowed
Generally speaking, messages sent directly between a staff member and a guardian are visible only to those two parties. Messages sent from a staff member to a student group (see more on student groups below) will be visible to the sending staff member and all guardian recipients. Any responses by guardians (if allowed) will occur as a direct conversation between the guardian and the staff member.
An exception to the rule that messages sent by staff members are visible only to that staff member and the message recipients is that the content of first message of the day will be logged as a communication record, which any staff can see (more below).
Although all conversations that use Schoolrunner messaging are generally visible only to the two parties within the conversation, school administrators may request conversation logs for any staff member. If you are a school administrator and need records of conversations in the Schoolrunner messaging feature, contact email@example.com.
To prevent staff from needing to do double work, messages sent via the Schoolrunner mobile app are automatically logged as communication records in Schoolrunner. This means that as teachers message parents, Schoolrunner automatically adds to the communication dataset that can show insights into which students are the subject of guardian-teacher discussion, and how frequently. (see image above)
Not every message sent generates a new communication record. This is to avoid flooding your communication data with extraneous records for every message sent in a back-and-forth conversation.
Schoolrunner logs one communication record per day for each guardian+student combo that a staff member messages (i.e. if you message one guardian about two separate students, like siblings, then two communication records will be logged).
Responses from guardians won't log a communication record; only action taken by staff will. And subsequent messages sent by staff in the same conversation won't log additional records within a single day.
Here's an example to illustrate what that means:
- You send a message about Jane Student's attendance to her guardians, of which she has three (father, mother, step-father, all with Schoolrunner accounts). By the end of the day, her father sends a couple messages back to you, her mother sends one message back, and her step-father doesn't reply.
- Schoolrunner will log three communication records for the day, one for each guardian you contacted. The number of responses you get from each guardian doesn't matter with regard to how many communication records get logged in Schoolrunner, nor does how many times you do (or don't) reply to them that day.
- The next day, the step father gets back to you and the mother also sends a couple more messages. Schoolrunner will not log any new communication records, even though it's a new day, unless you respond.
Here's another example, based on a group message.
- You are the principal and want to remind all guardians that next Monday is a holiday and school is out. You send an announcement to all guardians of the "All School" group.
- You will have just logged as many communication records as there are guardian accounts for your school. In other words, if your school has 500 students and each has two guardian accounts, Schoolrunner will automatically log 1,000 communication records.
When Schoolrunner logs a communication record based on a message, it includes the content of your message in the communication record. This is the one exception to the rule of general confidentiality between sender and recipient described in the section above (although remember, administrators can request all conversation logs from Schoolrunner as needed). No subsequent messages in the conversation that same day will be visible in the communication record.
If you don't want even your first message visible in the communication record, send a generic first message, such as "Good morning" and then send more information in subsequent messages.
Group messages can be sent to guardians of students in any section, homeroom/advisory, or dynamic group. When sending group messages, a few things to know are:
- If some students in the group don't have any guardians who have set up an account (and thus won't get your message), you'll see an orange banner. Tap for more details. You can also tap the three-dot icon for this information. (Blue, in screenshot below.)
- Guardians will see the name of the section, advisory/homeroom, or dynamic group. This, combined with a megaphone icon instead of a speech bubble icon on the previous conversation screen, will inform guardians that they are one of multiple people receiving your message (but note that guardians cannot see other students or guardians related to this group). This provides context for your message. (Red, in screenshot below.)
- When sending a message to a group, you will be able to permit or deny guardians to reply. If you permit replies, whatever a guardian writes back will go directly to you, and not to all members of the group (more below). (Green, in screenshot below.)
- If you are messaging a dynamic group (such as "5+ Demerits Today) keep in mind that student membership, and thus guardian recipients, can change day-to-day, and even within a day. Make sure any messages you send to dynamic groups are relevant to that group, but also generic enough to not single out any students specifically (message a student's guardians directly if you need to discuss an individual student).
- After you send a group message, tap on the message itself to see how many guardians it was delivered to, who read it, and which students (if any) in the group don't have any guardian accounts set up (and thus won't get the message).
Replies Allowed/Not Allowed
When messaging guardians of any group, you can choose to permit or deny replies. When composing a message to a group, a green reply arrow will be visible to the left of the text box. Tap it to turn it red and turn off replies. The placeholder text in the text box will also state clearly whether replies are or are not allowed.
Perhaps you're sending out a reminder that next week is when parent/teacher conferences will be held, and they should check the school website for details. You want to inform as many guardians as possible but don't want a flood of notifications and questions from hundreds of people. Make sure you tap the reply arrow to left of the text box so that it's red with a line through it.
When a guardian receives a no-reply-allowed message, they'll see gray button at the bottom of their screen informing them that replies are not allowed (left, below). They will not know who sent the message, so if you want them to know, be sure to include your name at the end of the announcement.
However, if you're sending a message out to all guardians of, say, your sports team, and you want to allow parents to respond to your message, make sure that the reply button is green (right, above). Replies will go directly to you, not to the group (there is no group chat function in which more than two people can directly converse).
When receiving a direct reply from a group message, a thread between you and the guardian will be created if one doesn't already exist. If you've already directly messaged with the guardian previously, that existing thread will be updated with your new messages.
Also, when a guardian replies to a group message you sent, their response will usually include the message you sent as quoted text, to provide context for their response.
English is the default language of messages in Schoolrunner, but staff and guardians can both opt to have messages translated if they prefer. Messages are translated by Google Translate, so any language that is supported by Google is also supported by Schoolrunner.
To ensure that translation works correctly, make sure that your phone's keyboard language matches the choice you make in the "Home Language" setting!
Note that translation applies only to message content (including quoted content in replies from a group message). Translation does not apply to other features, buttons, or information in the Schoolrunner mobile app. Visit the "Settings" screen to choose a language other than English (tap "Settings" on the main menu, which is accessed either by the "hamburger" menu in the upper left of the home screen or by sliding out from the left on any screen).
If the message you received doesn't make sense, you can tap "View original" beneath the message to see the original, untranslated message.