Schools in Iowa and beyond are currently developing their Return to Learn plans for the 2020-2021 school years. For many school communities, this includes contingency plans to continue lessons with bouts of required distance learning, a hybrid attendance model of some students onsite/offsite each day, and community buildings serving as classroom extensions to maintain distance between students.
Plans and preparation also involve some new money for purchasing curriculum and supplies to assist schools in their remote learning efforts. For many schools, an updated phone system may be a great way to maximize your CARES Act or ESSER funds.
A phone system? How will that help my remote learners?
Our VoIP phone system uses 3CX, a comprehensive communication system. This is our office phone system, internal communication system and video meeting system. ITS has also deployed 3CX to several K-12 schools and small-medium businesses.
During normal work circumstances, 3CX allows our staff to answer phone calls when working remotely, on a job site, or in their office cubicle. As we moved into a remote work environment to slow the spread of COVID-19, 3CX provided the same stable toolset and allowed us to keep our business moving as usual.
Benefits of 3CX:
- Mask staff cell phone numbers: Staff can call students/families from a free 3CX app on their personal cell phone. When using the 3CX app, they appear as an extension of the school and mask or hide their personal cell phone number!
- Web switchboard: Staff can also use a Chrome web browser to access the entire phone system. Whether staff are physically at school in their classroom, in a neighboring church as a remote classroom, or teaching from home, they can answer and place calls from within their web browser with a full phone experience.
- Internal chat: Individual chat messages and Group chats can help staff communicate quickly (Administrators, Remote Teachers, Middle School Teachers, etc.)
- Web conferencing: The built-in web conferencing tool allows screen share, document sharing, polls, whiteboard, mute audio/video, allow/block guests, schedule recurring meetings, etc. It is a great replacement for Zoom or Hangouts, and has end-to-end encryption.
- Phone models: a variety of phone models fit every desk situation when you are allowed back in the building.
- Voicemail to email: users can choose to have their voicemail sent as email instead of dialing into an extension to receive their message.
- Custom greetings and ring groups: Staff can upload custom audio files and create timely greetings, as well as change members in a ring group to determine which staff receive external phone calls on the first ring.
- Options regarding 911 calls and backup phone lines
- Support packages available with full add/change support from the ITS helpdesk.