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Virtual Open House - Back to School and Distance Learning



Hosting a Virtual Open House for Schools


As a middle school principal, Back to School season is one of my favorite times of year. During the 2020-21 school year, however, our campus was closed to families as we entered a season of Comprehensive Distance Learning for all.

Open House is a tradition every school year. It was important to me to keep the tradition in place, even if it needed to be adapted for the unique year. Therefore we hosted a Virtual Open House event for our students, staff, and families. Read on to learn how we planned and held the *best* Virtual Open House possible.

We planned an event that was smooth, simple, and easy for any family to follow – regardless of how “tech savvy” they were.



The Night’s Agenda


Hosting a Virtual Open House for schools was a new adventure this year (among many others). We did our best to keep Virtual Open House as close to our typical events as possible. Our event happens on the Thursday evening before Labor Day, with students starting classes exactly one week later. Even though we had so much to plan, we decided to stick with this date for a few key reasons.

First, families had so many questions as they prepared for this year of Distance Learning. Our hope was to relieve their stress and begin forming relationships with teachers early. Second, we considered our Virtual Open House as an opportunity to “onboard” for Distance Learning. By demonstrating to our community that we are “tech ready”, we hoped to build their confidence in our ability to navigate our new normal.



Finally, as you know, the highest-performing schools know how important relationships are to student success. My staff *love* our students! During Inservice Week we get so bogged down in the “how”…it was great to be reminded of our “why.” Students!

Here was our Night’s Outline: 5-6PM Principal’s Message ~ Bell Schedules ~ Student Safety ~ Getting Support (This Principal’s Message was pre-recorded using WeVideo. Also included were links to FAQ’s for families.)

6-7PM Meet Your Teachers ~ We have a 6 period day, so families attended Google Hangouts with each teacher for up to 8 minutes (2 minutes passing period). Classes started on the zeros.


The Open House Website How did families know where to go?

I am a HUGE fan of Google Sites. It’s a user-friendly “mini blog” way to push out big events to families. Last year I used it for Senior Awards Night. I find it’s much classier than just adding a link to our website – plus it gives families a place to “go” for an event.

For Virtual Open House, I created a Google Site that had our school’s photo and all the links they needed to attend our Virtual Open House.