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6 Ways K-12 School Districts Can Improve Communications with VoIP and UCaaS

ENA by Zayo > Articles > 6 Ways K-12 School Districts Can Improve Communications with VoIP and UCaaS

Unified communications, also known as UC or UCaaS, has been all the buzz lately, but how can UC and voice features actually improve communications across your district? Let’s see them in action by breaking down six compelling use cases.

1) Stay Reachable from Anywhere

Andrew, a district superintendent, is often on the road visiting multiple school locations and attending meetings with community leaders. While on the go, he must also stay in touch with board members, principals, his cabinet members, and directors across the district to address any issues that may need his attention. Needless to say, Andrew cannot be tied to a desk phone or miss important calls while traveling.

UCaaS platforms like ENA SmartVoice put mobility at your fingertips with mobile and desktop applications that turn your smartphone or computer into your district phone extension. Call, message, meet, text – ENA SmartVoice enables everyone to remain reachable anytime they’re on the move.

2) Protect Staff and Teacher Privacy

Alisha is a 10th grade history teacher who, over the last year, has taught remote, blended, and in-person classes. Even after her school’s return onsite, future incidents like snow days could necessitate virtual learning again. Because of this, Allison needs to be able to teach her students, collaborate with coworkers, and communicate with parents from anywhere without revealing her personal cell phone number.

ENA’s communications platform solves this confidentiality problem by providing each staff member with one professional number that can do it all. This means all phone calls, texts, instant messages, and voicemails go through one district phone number, enabling staff to keep personal and work conversations separate and preventing personal numbers from being exposed. Additionally, parents and students can reach teachers and staff on their district phone number, regardless of where they’re working, what device they’re on, or what form of communication works best.

3) Improve Efficiency and Productivity

Automatic Call Distributor (ACD)

At the start of every school year, Hidden Valley ISD experiences a large volume of parents calling into the district’s transportation center requesting bus route info. The call volume requires a 15-person team to handle and the IT team has to set up complicated back-end systems just to make it work.

ENA SmartVoice’s integrated ACD enables districts to set up essential call center functions like intelligent call routing, multi-line hunting with queueing, automated supervisor reports, and dashboard views to more efficiently handle large call volumes during peak seasons. It’s a true win-win:

  • Parents are able to quickly get their questions answered
  • The district’s transportation team has the functionality and insight to administer effective call management
  • The IT team saves time and can focus on other priorities

Auto Attendant

Hidden Valley ISD also faces phone challenges every time a snowstorm necessitates school closures. Administrators struggle with informing the public because they are unable to change call settings or set up custom voice messages without going onsite – causing confusion amongst parents.

From inclement weather to emergency situations, ENA SmartVoice’s auto attendant feature helps districts proactively respond to events with better communication. Multiple auto attendants can be set up at each location and updated anytime incoming calls need to be handled differently – even if you can’t get into the school. Callers can be presented with automated self-route options, and to help inform the community of school delays or closures, administrators can quickly log into the ENA web portal and record custom voice messages to relay important updates.

Call Jump

Matt is a high school college counselor and is participating in a conference call when he realizes he must leave for an important appointment across town. Having no other choice but to hang up his desk phone and call in with his cell phone, he misses a couple of key department updates.

ENA SmartVoice’s mobile and desktop apps empower staff with the ability to “jump” calls to and from their cell phone, desktop, and desk phone, guaranteeing a seamless communications transition experience on the go.

4) Save Valuable Time in Emergencies

Marques, a 2nd grade math teacher, is in the middle of a lesson when suddenly one of his students has a seizure. Per district protocol, he immediately dials 911. Unfortunately, the elementary school’s dial tone runs through the nearest high school PBX phone system, resulting in the high school address – not the elementary school – showing up on the dispatcher’s screen. Marques has to spend precious time clarifying to dispatchers his physical address and location on campus. Additionally, he spends the next ten minutes calling internal leaders to notify them about the situation.

Cloud-based systems like ENA SmartVoice can save critical time in an emergency situation with 911 services. Automated group notifications can be sent to key personnel anytime 911 is dialed, allowing important school leadership to know where and when an emergency situation is occurring for faster response. Additionally, pinpoint 911 allows 911 dispatchers to trace the exact location of a call down to the specific classroom, better directing emergency responders and saving critical time.

5) Communicate Better with More Channels

Tiana, a K-12 curriculum and instruction director, needs a time-sensitive question answered by her colleague Evan about an upcoming class. She calls him but is sent directly to voicemail. With no other way of reaching him, she sends an email hoping it doesn’t get buried in his inbox. 

With ENA SmartVoice’s chat feature, teachers and staff can quickly and intelligently communicate with instant messaging and see each other’s availability status with integrated presence. Coworkers can initiate person-to-person or group messages, share files, and even start a video or audio call directly from chat.

6) Enable Convenient Virtual Meeting Options

Sofia, a single mom to 2-year-old Elena and 14-year-old Hugo, is preparing to head to her son’s high school for his annual parent-teacher conference when her babysitter unexpectedly cancels. With ENA SmartVoice’s virtual meeting feature, Sofia can call or text Hugo’s teacher, letting her know that a virtual meeting would be better for her schedule. Within minutes, Sofia can join the teacher’s virtual meeting room and have a face-to-face, interactive conversation without the need to reschedule.

Even as schools return onsite with in-person learning, video conferencing is still a meaningful tool for flexible collaboration between staff, parents, and the community at large. From parent-teacher conferences and student clubs to board meetings and townhalls, having a virtual meeting option available for those who can’t attend in person increases attendance and fosters a more inclusive environment for everyone.

Ready to see how ENA’s voice solutions can help your district?

Learn more at www.ena.com/k12voice or sign up for a no-obligation consultation to get a quote or schedule a solution demo.

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