Monthly Mentions Newsletter – December 2018

A Magical Time of  the Year!

If your school is approaching mid-quarter report for the 2nd quarter, then these functions in FastDirect might need to be addressed. Opening up teacher input for 2nd Mid-Quarter Report will require:

  • Changing input for 1st quarter report cards from ‘Allow Input’ to ‘Input Complete’ in ‘ReportCard Input Controls’
  • Confirming the mid-quarter dates for 2nd quarter in ‘Grades’ then ‘Report Card Input Controls’
  • Changing input for mid-quarter from ‘Not Yet’ to ‘Allow Input’ in ‘Report Card Input Controls’
  • Having teachers go through the mid-quarter report card input process
  • Closing the input process by changing ‘Allow Input’ to ‘Input Complete’

With the winter season upon us, this could mean school closings and changes to school days due to inclement weather.  If your school closes because of snow or other unexpected reasons, then you will need to change the day in the Master School (Standard) Calendar to a non-attendance day. If the calendar is not changed, then your teachers will be asked to take attendance for the day that was cancelled.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to ‘Calendar’ then scroll down to the gold box below the months
  2. The first option in the gold box allows you to select a day and determine what type of day it is – Normal, Holiday, Other etc.
  3. Select the month/day/year in the drop down, then select ‘Weather off’
  4. Click ‘Change type of day’
  5. Repeat these steps if your school was closed for additional days
  6. Please note – if you have teachers who are using separate attendance calendars, then you will need to change those as well!

Notifying your parents of snow days, late starts or early dismissals has never been easier! To notify your staff and parents of any closings, late starts or early dismissals, use the FDbroadcast feature. These broadcasts can go directly from the school to the parents’ cell phones and email accounts, keeping everyone informed instantly!

FDbroadcast was designed to allow principals (and selected staff) the ability to message the school community in multiple methods in case of an emergency or urgent situation. The option “FDbroadcast” must be selected when sending the FDmail message. The system, by default, allows the Principal access to this feature. To give other staff members access, the Principal must edit their Teacher (Staff) form in the People section. This feature sends all users a copy of your urgent FDmail as well as a Text Notification and an Email Forward. Even if your school does not currently use the feature ‘Email Forward’, the FDbroadcast will still forward your FDmail message directly to the recipients’ email. However, in order for the text notification to work, your school will need to enable ‘SMS Text Notification’ in Settings. The last critical step is that your parents have entered in all the necessary information on their parent form. This means they will need an email address, a cell phone number and a cell phone provider. A text notification and email forward are only sent if the appropriate fields are completed on the staff and parent forms. If a parent has opted out of receiving SMS Text Notifications or has opted out of receiving Staff Email Forward, an FDbroadcast will still be sent to that parent in all methods regardless of the parents’ preferences. This is why an FDbroadcast is ideal for urgent or emergency situations, as it overrides the parents’ preferences for communication.

Here are some helpful FAQ links to help explain these features and how to get started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining FDbroadcast

Click here for the FAQ on how to send an FDbroadcast

Click here for the FDbroadcast video tutorial

The login screen is another way to communicate school closings and announcements from the school.  Here are the steps for posting an announcement on the login screen:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ and click on Login Page Design in the left hand navigation menu
  2. In the middle box labeled ‘Message of the Day’, type in your message or announcement
  3. Click ‘Save Changes’

This announcement will post on the login screen above the login box. To add addition detail, color, font changes, etc, you will want to use an HTML editing software, such as KompoZer, which can be downloaded for free.

If you are a trimester school, December may be too soon for you to open up mid-trimester report card input.

With the winter season upon us, this could mean school closings and changes to school days due to inclement weather.  If your school closes because of snow or other unexpected reasons, then you will need to change the day in the Master School (Standard) Calendar to a non-attendance day. If the calendar is not changed, then your teachers will be asked to take attendance for the day that was cancelled.  Here are the steps:

  1. Go to ‘Calendar’ then scroll down to the gold box below the months
  2. The first option in the gold box allows you to select a day and determine what type of day it is – Normal, Holiday, Other etc.
  3. Select the month/day/year in the drop down, then select ‘Weather off’
  4. Click ‘Change type of day’
  5. Repeat these steps if your school was closed for additional days
  6. Please note – if you have teachers who are using separate attendance calendars, then you will need to change those as well!

Notifying your parents of snow days, late starts or early dismissals has never been easier! To notify your staff and parents of any closings, late starts or early dismissals, use the FDbroadcast feature. These broadcasts can go directly from the school to the parents’ cell phones and email accounts, keeping everyone informed instantly!

FDbroadcast was designed to allow principals (and selected staff) the ability to message the school community in multiple methods in case of an emergency or urgent situation. The option “FDbroadcast” must be selected when sending the FDmail message. The system, by default, allows the Principal access to this feature. To give other staff members access, the Principal must edit their Teacher (Staff) form in the People section. This feature sends all users a copy of your urgent FDmail as well as a Text Notification and an Email Forward. Even if your school does not currently use the feature ‘Email Forward’, the FDbroadcast will still forward your FDmail message directly to the recipients’ email. However, in order for the text notification to work, your school will need to enable ‘SMS Text Notification’ in Settings. The last critical step is that your parents have entered in all the necessary information on their parent form. This means they will need an email address, a cell phone number and a cell phone provider. A text notification and email forward are only sent if the appropriate fields are completed on the staff and parent forms. If a parent has opted out of receiving SMS Text Notifications or has opted out of receiving Staff Email Forward, an FDbroadcast will still be sent to that parent in all methods regardless of the parents’ preferences. This is why an FDbroadcast is ideal for urgent or emergency situations, as it overrides the parents’ preferences for communication.

Here are some helpful FAQ links to help explain these features and how to get started:

Click here for the FAQ explaining FDbroadcast

Click here for the FAQ on how to send an FDbroadcast

Click here for the FDbroadcast video tutorial

The login screen is another way to communicate school closings and announcements from the school.  Here are the steps for posting an announcement on the login screen:

  1. Go to ‘Settings’ and click on Login Page Design in the left hand navigation menu
  2. In the middle box labeled ‘Message of the Day’, type in your message or announcement
  3. Click ‘Save Changes’

This announcement will post on the login screen above the login box. To add addition detail, color, font changes, etc, you will want to use an HTML editing software, such as KompoZer, which can be downloaded for free.

Comment codes are now available as clickable, customized options for your teachers! If your school uses a set of comment codes for report cards, those comments can now be added to the system and teachers are able to select the comments they need for each student.

Here is some important information about the clickable, customized comment codes:

  • Comment codes are supplied by the school and added to the system by FastDirect’s HelpDesk
  • Comment codes can be applied to one grade, several grades, or all grades
  • Teachers simply select from the list of assigned comment codes to be added to a student’s report card

Contact HelpDesk if you are interested in adding clickable, customized comments for your teachers!

If your school uses School Messenger, you may want to contact them to find out how they are retrieving the contact data from our system. With winter weather upon us, it is important that they have the most up-to-date contact information.

There are three different ways that School Messenger can retrieve contact information from our system:

  1. Auto-sync from FastDirect to School Messenger
  2. A School Messenger app on a computer in the school’s office (with a FastDirect approved IP address)
  3. Manual reports downloaded by the school and sent to School Messenger

Depending on the arrangement you have with School Messenger, this may require some updating.  For example, with option 2, if the computer that is running the School Messenger app has been changed or replaced, then it may be on an IP address that has not been approved by FastDirect.  Contact School Messenger to determine which arrangement you have with them which will help determine if any changes need to be made.

Are you responsible for logging students in/out of before/after care or daycare? Our new component Timer can be given to any staff account which will allow you to track a student’s attendance with ease!  This free feature allows you to track attendance hours for preschool, daycare, before and after school care, and more!  When combined with Finance, you are able to bill a family’s account directly with just a click! Here are some of the amazing features of this robust component:

  • One click clocking in or clocking out of students
  • Multiple rate groups, as well as multiple student groups
  • Customizable rate settings to meet your school’s unique programs
  • Bill directly to a family’s finance account
  • Exportable reports are easily retrieved and detail all previous charges and times

To find out more about Timer and how it can help transform your school’s tracking of preschool or extended care hours, contact HelpDesk to schedule an appointment! If your school already uses Timer, talk to an administrator at your school to get started with extended care tracking.

When viewing your finance account balances in FastDirect, each balance is a clickable link. When you click on a specific balance, you will see a list of all the transactions (deposits & charges) made to that account. Once clicked, the list of transactions will give you the following information:

  • Finance account name
  • Date of transaction (when added to FastDirect)
  • Charge or Deposit label
  • Amount of money in transaction
  • Description/note of transaction (for example, check number)

 

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2018-12-04T15:32:06+00:00

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