During these unprecedented times, HPS and HEA want to communicate jointly and definitively about expectations for communicating with students and families. Over the course of the coming days and weeks, certificated instructional staff will be expected to communicate with students and families from remote workspaces. As these expectations develop, teachers will receive direction from their principal/supervisor.
The order to stay home issued by Governor Inslee effective Wednesday, March 25 requires us to think differently about how we communicate with students when we no longer have access to the technology in our schools and district facilities. The preferred mode for communication with students and families continues to be with standard district-issued devices (i.e., laptops, Chromebooks, etc.) and district-sponsored platforms. Please review guidance for approved communication tools and purposes during school closure.
Staff have asked about use of personal cell phones. Staff are neither expected to, nor prohibited from using their personal cell phones to communicate with families and students. We recognize that in some cases this may be the most practical way to communicate. During this time when so many of our friends and neighbors have lost employment, we are fortunate as public educators to be receiving a salary. In light of these extraordinary circumstances, we understand that employees may choose to use personal cell phones when needed or appropriate.
Some have asked about maintaining personal and professional boundaries when communicating with students. Please ensure that communication remains centered on a clear educational purpose. As you begin this work, we ask that you take some time this week or next to review HPS policy and procedure on professional staff boundaries. If you have any questions about how any of these policies impact your work, please contact your principal/supervisor for clarification.
Finally, we have received the following questions. We agree on these responses:
Am I required to use my personal cell phone in order to call students?
No, you have a number of options for making calls to students including:
- Teams - in Office 365
- Conference lines - contact EHelpDesk@highlineschools.org for more information
- Cell phone or landline - at your discretion
Our recommendation is that you use Teams, as communicated on the Staff Hub.
How can I keep my personal phone number confidential when calling students?
You may use these resources/guidelines for blocking your number in order to call students while maintaining the confidentiality of personal information.
Will using my cell phone for calling students make my cell vulnerable to a possible records request?
No, phone calls are not stored data and therefore personal data maintained on your cell is not subject to a records request. However, using your phone to text or email a student would create a public record. (See the following question.)
May I text students using my personal phone as a way to maintain communication?
When you text or email a student from your personal phone, you are creating a public record. The text/email is disclosable under the provisions of the Public Records Act. In addition, personal data on your phone may also become susceptible to a public records request. Instead, we recommend emailing on a district device for written communications. It is strongly recommended that a parent/guardian is cc’d when emailing individual students in order to maintain professional boundaries.
How will I conduct IEP meetings?
Guidance from Gaye Bungart and Darren Spencer, Directors of Special Education will be shared by Friday, March 27.
Who do I contact for help?
It is always good to start with your school administrator. They know you, your students, and your context the best. In addition, for specific questions consider the following sources:
- Technical Difficulties: EHelpDesk@highlineschools.org
- Issues related to HR: firstname.lastname@example.org