Key Questions

1. What are the challenges that educators and families faced with communication and partnership to support students’ learning during remote learning?

2. What are the types of strategies educators and families were using to promote school-family communication and partnerships?

3. How did teachers and families perceive schools’ communication efforts? How were their perceptions related to different types of school practices?


The initial shift to remote schooling that occurred in response to the COVID-19 pandemic presented unprecedented challenges to school communities across the country. Among the many challenges, searching for ways to collaborate more closely with families to sustain student learning and development under the new context became paramount for educators.

Click below to view a 90-second episode of GO FIGURE, with Vanessa Gutiérrez explaining Table 1 of this research (October 31, 2023).

This brief outlines seven lessons that we drew from the insights shared by our focus group participants. The first three lessons address educator practice in the classroom, reflecting dimensions of communication that occur day-to-day. The following four lessons describe school-wide communication efforts that were positively received during remote schooling. We then highlight a central challenge that emerged in our conversations with both educators and caregivers: participants described a desire for additional guidance and support in improving their communication efforts.

Key Lessons

  • Lesson 1. Virtual meeting options provided more flexible scheduling opportunities for parents to communicate with educators
  • Lesson 2. Mobile apps increased timely communication between parents and educators
  • Lesson 3. Translation features in mobile apps allowed for direct communication between educators and parents who speak languages other than English
  • Lesson 4. Schools enlisted all staff members, including non-instructional staff, to serve as additional resources to help cultivate additional relationships between schools and parents
  • Lesson 5. Schools created inclusive, family-focused co-curricular events that helped deepen their relationships with parents
  • Lesson 6. Schools created virtual and in-person forums where parents connected with one another and deepened their sense of community
  • Lesson 7. Understanding students’ family and community contexts helped schools to reach—and know how to be reached by—families during the pandemic