The safety of teachers, students and administrative personnel has never been a greater challenge for school districts. In 2020-21 school districts across the country have faced extraordinary circumstances due to COVID-19, but there is some light at the end of the tunnel.
Over the last week, Dallas Independent School District (DISD) enacted a series of telephone town hall calls to district families. These live virtual forums allowed them to directly address the learning loss caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, and to take questions from district families. DISD leadership also used the tele-townhalls to propose three calendar models that would provide more learning time for the students. In-event polling helped Dallas ISD get participant feedback and gauge interest in proposed solutions.
The first telephone town hall of the series had nearly 80,000 participants by phone and an additional 426 web participants. Those who joined were invited to listen in English, stream an English Web Simulcast, listen in Spanish or stream a Spanish Web Simulcast. Spanish Simulcast participants on both the phone and web heard a live translation of the main English-language event, submitted questions, and voted in the same polls. Following the call, DISD shared full recordings of their telephone town halls on their website in both languages.
Dallas Independent School District had over 280 questions submitted by participants during the hour-long call, and they collected 256 emails between their English and Spanish participants. All question screening and data collection was managed by Telephone Town Hall Meeting staff, and Q&A was moderated by a TTHM event producer.
Telephone Town Hall events like the one run for Dallas ISD include:
- Digital sign up page to advertise and boost attendance on the call;
- Professional event setup, production and moderation;
- Virtual staff to screen questions for live Q&A with participants;
- Ability to collect email addresses or mobile numbers for updates;
- Detailed reporting package including stats, reports and recording.
One of the highlights of the DISD tele-townhall was the ability to run live surveys for participants on both the phone and web. Participants voted in the same polls at the same time on the main English-language event and the live Spanish Simulcast. Three survey questions were asked on these DISD forums. Real-time responses were recorded and displayed during the event for Dallas Independent School District staff, and survey results were also included in detailed post-forum reporting.
As students and school districts continue to grapple with this pandemic and its effects, Telephone Town Hall Meeting offers an effective, fast, interactive and safe way for school administrators to address potential solutions with a large district-wide audience.