Communication with parents about their son or daughter's off-campus experience can be an important touchpoint for the university. As off-campus instructors, our primary responsibility is to the students who are a part of our class; however, recognizing the interest and involvement of parents can also be very beneficial to all.
Some general guidelines to remember:
Consider sending out a general letter to parents about your off-campus interim or experience. This letter can be given to students to share with their families if they decide to do so. A good example is the attached information for families from the Cambodian interim, Cambodian family handout (thanks to Pennylyn Dykstra-Pruim, Leonard De Rooy and David Dornbos for sharing). Creating a short prayer journal for families and friends to know what to be praying for is a great way to draw families and friends into the experience.
Communicate directly with students and encourage parents to do the same; likewise, encourage students to communicate directly with their families.
Be mindful of federal legislation that protects students privacy (even with their own families). FERPA (the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act of 1974) provides guidelines that inform how the university interacts with students and parents (for more info on FERPA: www.calvin.edu/parents/communication).
Student’s permission is requested to share general information with his or her parent(s) (i.e. financial information, academic progress -- grades, academic services and accommodations, general group updates, group dynamics and personal counseling matters). However, in the case of an emergency (e.g. hospitalization, serious disciplinary action or in situations where student give permission to share with their families), parents will be contacted immediately.
More info can be found at the link "Communicating with Students and Parents" under Resources on the Student and Parent Resource Page.
If you have questions or concerns please contact the Off-Campus Programs Office, firstname.lastname@example.org.