Waterbury community partners convened a meeting to solidify their messaging and communications plan. It was decided that they would review the Attendance Works website, select 5 messages and survey the community on their favorite message. Attendance matters from the first day of school to the last day. Let’s start the year off right! became the selected message. The message was incorporated into pledge cards – called Waterbury Family Success Pledge Cards - using the template on the Attendance Works website. The Mayor’s office and the Waterbury Public Schools collaborated on printing up the pledge cards in English, Spanish and Albanian. Early literacy and attendance encouragement Bookmarks were developed by the United Way of Greater Waterbury, also in the three languages. The Staywell Health Care Center assisted in the translation for both the pledge cards and bookmarks.
Pledge cards and bookmarks were distributed at the community’s Back to School Rally that is held the week before school starts. Over 2,500 families attend this rally that promotes the start of a new school year and encourages success and involvement. The mayor, superintendent, and keynote speakers incorporated the school attendance message in their speeches and advised those in attendance about the pledge cards and bookmarks.
Additional communications included a press release from the City on the City’s website, the Mayor’s Facebook page, and the Waterbury Public Schools website. BTS released a Special Announcement Sept. 19 to over 700 BTS community partners – “September is School Attendance Awareness Month - School Attendance Matters” – advising about the pledge cards, bookmarks and the importance of school attendance. The BTS Early Care & Education workgroup will be focusing on attendance and will help to create some of the ongoing messages that can go out throughout the school year.
Plans are in the works for the Mayor and Superintendent to do IRIS calls and robo-texts throughout the year. The message will continue to be communicated at school events, newsletters, community events and on the local access television channel.