Principals can be strong advocates for families. They know what students need to learn, set teachers’ expectations for educating students, and decide what resources are necessary to ensure students and families stay on track. They work to ensure the school communicates effectively with you and your child, they want to include you in your child’s educational decisions, and they will respond to your needs.

Principals define the structure for teachers and staff to inform you and set expectations for your child’s education. Creating open and clear lines of communication are essential for strong partnership and developing one with the principal is particularly important because things may change quickly. Principals can answer questions that teachers may not be able to. You can communicate directly with principals by calling the school general phone number.

Each school and school district will have its own set of resources. Principals will know what resources are available and can help you get what you need. Also, let your principal know what you need, whether it is access to technology (such as a router, a laptop, etc.), mental health needs for you or for your child, digital literacy training, or something else.

Establishing clear teaching objectives is how teachers demonstrate they are implementing the curriculum and are meeting grade-level standards. Principals support teachers so they can meet the learning objectives. Therefore, principals can share grade-level expectations as well as how teachers are expected to meet those expectations. Make sure you clearly understand what your child is expected to learn.

Knowing where to turn when the amount of instruction and the type of education experience does not meet expectations is the first step to advocate for your child. Ensuring your child has equitable access to educational opportunities, even in the pandemic, is your right and principals can make sure the school fulfills its obligation.

Districts have developed transition plans for children to return to school for in-person learning. You should know what those plans include. Principals can provide details about how to provide feedback about the transition plan.

  • What criteria must be met before children go back to in-person classes? It is important to understand the specific criteria the district will use to decide when to allow students back on campus. Understanding what will guide those decisions, as well as your child’s needs, will impact which students receive in-person instruction first. Knowing what new measures have been put in place will also help you decide if going back on campus is the right thing for your child.
  • Who decides if children return to the school? Principals will be aware of the process and criteria districts will follow in making decisions about “in-person” transitions. They will often be responsible for setting the conditions necessary for health and safety protocols and schedules that keep teachers and children safe. Having open and clear lines of communication with your child’s principal can help you know when it is appropriate for your child to return to campus.

These requirements are set by the district, with guidance from the state, and implemented through district agreements with local teachers unions. Principals will set expectations and policies for the school that reflect the agreements with the union and align with the school’s expectations. Knowing what those expectations are will help you and your child meet them.