As of summer 2020, local governments, colleges, and K-12 school districts are uncertain about how they will approach the upcoming academic year due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. Ideas include reopening schools fully with precautions, partially with online education to supplement, or going for an all digital model. Whatever route officials decide to take, it’s clear that things will be changed for the long-term, and that educational institutions will need to find better ways to work under the circumstances.
This doesn’t just include how teachers will interact with students. Schools will need more efficient ways to run their back-offices and complete administrative tasks while adhering to their respective social distancing guidelines.
While many schools and school districts have implemented online academic platforms for students and teachers to interact with, these systems rarely offer an administrative function for human resources, payroll, official policies, meeting agendas and minutes, and transcripts. It’s fairly common that much of this paperwork is still being processed and archived with physical forms.
Now that social distancing and remote working are the order of the day, these routine processes have become challenging, if not impossible. When educational institutes need to be able to remotely access files, collaborate, share, and organize their administrative documents, there are few ways readily available that can help them keep up with the demands of running a school and keeping compliant with state and federal education regulations.
Better Access and Organization for Better Schooling
The challenges of operating your school’s office from several remote locations can be simplified once you gain access to a centralized repository for your documents. However, as an organization that requires extensive records to be meticulously filed, having an online storage platform isn’t enough.
To effectively manage records remotely, a more advanced solution would be required that speeds up the processes of filing and retrieving documents. Intelligent organization tools include dynamic folder templates that allows school administrators to only have to do certain tasks once. Creating folder structures for new employees or new students only takes a few clicks. Your templates can be populated with the necessary folders and forms. More logistics like this can be simplified with tools based on automation.
Document management software allows you to create workflows for any of your document processes, no matter how complicated. Using these simple logic trees, you can create a variety of different workflows to carry out common tasks that occupied your back-office staff. Instead of taking the time to organize and onboard a new employee’s information into your filing system, you can set up workflows to automatically route documents, and label them. Workflows can be created for a variety of tasks including enrollment and admissions, financial aid processing, curriculum, transcript access, etc.
Being able to quickly process new documents allows administrators to develop other important aspects of their remote educational model, including improving the student to teacher interaction and interface. Plus, streamlining such operations will mean seeing savings on labor hours.
The Challenge of Compliance
In order to protect the privacy of students and employees alike, your electronic records need to adhere to several compliance standards, which is only possible through certain types of software and not with a simple file storage program. While such a system needs to be accessible and intuitive to use, security controls are an essential part of an administrator’s toolkit.
When students’ private information is involved, The Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA) goes into effect. FERPA classifies student information, including any academic and identifying information, as protected. When storing this information in electronic form, the law dictates several requirements for storage and access, including the use of encryption at rest and during transfer.
Authorized access to information should be kept to a minimum, so systems that employ role-based permissions, as well as automatically updating audit logs will help ensure that no one without authorization can access documents. Protected information cannot be altered or shared without the written consent of the student or guardian if under 18.
Document Management as a Solution
Keeping your school, school district, or other educational institute compliant with local guidelines for remote learning can come down to the technology you implement and how you put it to use. It’ll be a challenge for students, teachers, parents, and administrators to adapt to this new model, which is why coming up with an easy and compliant method for conducting day-to-day paperwork and back-office operations is essential, so that you have more time dedicated to students and their learning experience.
To learn about using document management to support your school’s remote learning strategy, click below to get a demo.