Welcome back to a new school year!
To make sure that your year starts up smoothly, this section provides you with a checklist to return to school. Provided is a list of things to remember, setup, and frequently asked questions for Finalsite Mass Notifications. There will be a short set of instructions and any URL links to the help page.
* Many districts return to school within the same few weeks. There will be a higher volume of incoming requests during this time. The support team thanks you for your patience as they work to resolve all customer requests as quickly as possible.
“Call Before You Dig”
For many schools, the summer is a busy time for technology full of system updates, infrastructure changes, and product transitions with many teams working rapidly to meet the looming deadline. It can be easy to overlook how external systems relied on what you had before, leading to unexpected downtime when you need your messaging service most.
Some of these may seem obvious - changing to an entirely-different SIS would obviously require replacing any integration process that existed with the old one. However, even changing where the SIS is located can disrupt the connections or eliminate integration methods - some SIS hosting services restrict how they allow data to be accessed.
Even upgrading to a new version of the same SIS can be disruptive. Although this is far less risky, new versions can give you new and different options to organize and store your information. Our systems will not adapt to such changes until you communicate the changes to us.
Beyond your SIS, network or firewall changes may disrupt the LDAP or SAML service that powered your SSO login experience, a change to your mail server can affect deliverability, as can certain DNS changes.
It can be difficult to predict what may or may not cause a disruption, but we encourage you to err on the side of caution and contact us early, either to assess the risk before it is introduced or to test after the changes are deployed.
Send your files
As a best practice, please verify data transfers from your Student Information System (SIS) are successfully working a week before school begins. If we are retrieving the data on your behalf, review known changes for the new academic year and notify us if those changes haven’t been made available in our system.
* If new files of information are being sent, please make sure that the files are titled and formatted the same as the previous files and delivered to the same location.
Some student information systems behave differently than others, requiring additional steps or making information available at different stages over summer.
Districts with Aeries SIS
You will need to make an adjustment on your end for the new year in order for new data to be pulled. Adjust your settings to reflect the new database name.
Our integrations through the ESCHOOLDATA API make use of the same “bit flip” that is used within your office systems to designate the school year. Before the bit flip, integration will be pulling data based on the prior school year; students new to the upcoming school year will not be included. Once the “bit flip” transition is completed, the next data pull will transition to the new academic year.
Regardless of academic year, your system will draw student, parents, and contact information for all students designated “Active” in your system. However class-specific data (including student schedules) will not be available until after the first day of the school year.
TXEIS / Ascender
TXEIS or ASCENDER integration may be powered by scripts hosted and managed by the district, the ESC, or by Finalsite, but they all have two general requirements:
- All Finalsite-managed scripts automatically update to the next academic year on July 1 unless another transition date was previously requested. If your needs have changed since prior years, contact our support team to adjust the transition date. Scripts managed by your district or ESC might require manual handling.
- Within the SIS, the step “Move to grade reporting” must be completed within the SIS before students are available for the next academic year. More information can be found in the attached TXEIS document.
Updates to organizations
Let your CSM know if your district or school needs to add any new organizations, or remove old ones.
For new organizations, provide the following information:
- School Name
- School Type (such as high school or middle school)
- Phone number
- Time zone
- Organization ID
- Indicate which imports the school will be added to
- Indicate the task schedules to set up
* Adding a new organization may take 3-5 days to complete.
Set automated notifications for the new school year
If you stopped notifications for the summer break, you can reset them so that attendance and cafeteria balance messages and calls are sent.
- From the Communications HQ website menu, select Settings.
- Select the district Organization Name from the list.
- From the Settings area, and select the Automated Notification link.
- Select the Enabled option to send the messages.
* To enable a specific school, select the link in the number of schools area and select the Enabled option for individual schools.
- Select the Enable user configured app alerts option to send notification alerts for the user apps.
- To enable all notifications on a certain date, such as the first day of school, choose the date in the Enable all Notifications on box and select Save Date.
- Select Save when finished.
Forgot login ID or password?
If any staff members forget login credentials, the district or school administrator will be able to confirm the login ID and reset password.
If any administrator or principal forgets the password, select the Forgot password link to email a temporary password.
The email will be sent to the address available for the login ID.
Training staff members
If you have a new group of staff members who need training, please contact your account managers to set up a training seminar.
Check out the online training videos.