There is no busier time in a school district than back-to-school.
Even in a normal year, the weeks leading up to the first day of school and well into the first few months bring about an influx of inquiries from families, teachers, staff, and others.
This year, your team needs to be ready for an onslaught.
Your entire community has time-sensitive questions and concerns—whether they’ve raised them yet or not. Without proper planning and preparation on how to address those inquiries, you will find yourself with a frustrated community and overwhelmed internal team.
Avoiding that relies on addressing your community’s questions before they’re raised—and making it easy for community members to find that information.
One way to do this is by compiling, answering, and publishing FAQs—enabling community members to get quick, consistent, and accurate answers to common questions without bogging down your internal team.
Below are 5 key steps to help you create an effective FAQ document ahead of a new type of back-to-school.
1. Compile common questions from your community
Effective FAQs focus on what matters now. Look at the questions you and your team are currently fielding: What questions are raised by multiple people? Which ones would others benefit from hearing the answer to? What topics or themes are recurring?
Start there, but also fold in questions you typically get during back-to-school—especially if the answers have changed this school year in light of the pandemic. For example, questions about health and safety procedures need to be addressed ahead of school buildings reopening, and districts with virtual or hybrid learning options will want to preemptively address questions around technology and IT support.
Districts that use Let’s Talk can use their dashboard metrics and insights to quickly identify current hot topics and themes in their community, as well as drill down on popular topics from prior back-to-school seasons.
2. Organize questions into clear, relevant categories
There is no shortage of questions this school year, so it’s likely you have a wealth of FAQs you’d like to address and share with your community.
Make it easy for students, parents, staff, and others to navigate the FAQs by grouping them into clear, relevant categories. For example, questions about health and safety precautions during COVID-19 would be grouped together, as would questions about online or distance learning.
Consider adding a linked table of contents or a drop-down menu on your webpage to make it easier for community members to jump to the appropriate topic and find the information they are looking for.
3. Ensure every question has a complete, accurate, and digestible response
The goal of publishing FAQs is to address questions without community members having to reach out every time. Nothing works against this goal more than providing inaccurate or incomplete information.
Check every answer to ensure it completely and clearly answers the question—without burying the answer within blocks of text. If a question requires a longer response, give the “short answer” first and then provide any necessary explanations or additional details to completely answer the question.
When appropriate, include links to additional information or resources, such as an announcement from the superintendent or online forms for registration or technology support.
4. Review and update your FAQs regularly
We all know things will shift—this year, more so than ever. Review your FAQs regularly and update them as needed. This could include adding new questions that you’re hearing from your community, clarifying or updating responses, or removing questions that are no longer relevant.
If you house your FAQs in more than one place, ensure all versions are updated with any new information or questions.
5. Invite community members to reach out with additional questions
No matter how thorough your FAQ document is, it will never address every question your community has. Some questions may just be too personal or too nuanced to be properly addressed in FAQs—or they are questions you hadn’t thought of yet.
Regardless of the case, you want to make it easy for students, families, staff, and others to reach out with any additional questions or concerns after reviewing the FAQs.
Tools like Let’s Talk enable you to add a button, link, or pop-out tab anywhere on your website to make it easy for your community to engage with you around key topics—while providing you with the data and insights you need to better understand and serve your community.
See how 5 school districts are using Let’s Talk to prepare and engage families and staff ahead of re-entry.
By preemptively answering the questions your community has this back-to-school season and making it easy for them to engage with you when they have additional questions or concerns, you build strong, trusting relationships that will power you through whatever challenges this school year may hold in store.