Text Messaging Procedure
Procedure Number: 4.2.5-P
Current Effective Date: 08/10/2020
Original Effective Date: 08/10/2020
Revision Dates: 0
Revision Number: 0
Revision Summary: implementation of new procedure
Responsible Official: Vice President, Student Services; Vice President, Legal Services
References: Administrative Policy 4.2.5
To provide understanding and guidance for KCTCS faculty, staff, and students (prospective or currently enrolled), as well as alumni about how KCTCS will use two-way texting platform to disseminate information to mass audiences within the college community.
This procedure applies to all KCTCS-affiliated personnel who communicate with prospective or enrolled students, employees, alumni, and other stakeholders (individually or within groups) via text messaging for official college or system purposes. This includes text messages sent from a KCTCS- or college-owned device, account or office and text messages sent through a third-party service on behalf of any KCTCS unit.
The procedure seeks to guide texting behaviors that:
- Respect and maintain individual rights to privacy
- Maximize efficiency and effectiveness in communicating with students and other stakeholders
- Supports the use of best practices that minimize overuse of texting
Applicable definitions and process guidance are provided below.
These definitions are provided to ensure a common knowledge base and understanding among stakeholders:
- Mass Text Message: Identical or substantially similar messages sent to more than 10 addresses in one
or more batches.
- Opt-In: An action by which someone requests to receive KCTCS communications via text message.
Only individuals who opt-in to text messaging will receive texts.
- Opt-Out: An action by which someone who receives KCTCS communications via text message indicates
they no longer want to receive text messages from KCTCS or one of the KCTCS colleges.
Individuals who opt-out of a texting system or program will not receive text messages.
- Non-Emergency Purposes: College or system business that does not have a potential direct impact on individual
health and safety of the recipient.
- KCTCS Mission: In everything we do, our mission is to improve the quality of life and employability
of the citizens of the Commonwealth by serving as the primary provider of:
- College and Workforce Readiness
- Transfer Education
- Workforce Education and Training
- Unit: A college, an administrative department or an academic division that is led by a president, System Office Cabinet member, vice president, or dean, and has a defined purpose or mission related to advancing the KCTCS mission.
4. Approved to Send Text Messages
Specific College and KCTCS units are approved to send the following two types of text messages as outlined below. Messaging related to health and safety should be sent via a one-way alert/messaging platform and not two-way messaging system.
Student Academic Success
The following college or system units may use text messaging to send information critical to student academic success, such as critical academic calendar dates/deadlines, academic advising notices, financial aid notifications, and student life engagement:
- Admissions Office Staff
- Financial Aid Staff
- Student Financials/College Bursar/Billing Office
- Professional and Faculty Advisors
- Student Success Coaches
- Student Recruiters
- Diversity Staff
- Disability Services
- College or System Foundation Staff
- Workforce Solution personnel
- Faculty (future)
- Information Technology
- Institutional Advancement
- Other offices as determined by the College President
Other mission-critical text messages may be sent as determined by the College President, Provost (or similar), Vice President of Student Affairs (or their designees).
5. Messaging Tools and Processes
Any text message used to communicate with 10 or more prospective or current KCTCS students must be approved by the Chief Student Dean (or a designee) prior to adoption and release. Each college will create and document a process to substantiate approval of messages prior to dissemination. Message approvals may be subject to internal audit.
Student cellular telephone numbers shall not to be shared outside of KCTCS. Student cellular numbers may be shared within KCTCS (across departments) for official purposes prior approval.
Opt-in and Opt-Out
Upon completion of the admissions application, KCTCS students are opted in to receive all communications, inclusive of text messages, from KCTCS colleges. At any time, students may opt out of receiving text messages from a functional area by requesting that messaging cease. On an annual basis, KCTCS will implement a process inviting students to review and update their status in receiving communications from KCTCS staff and faculty.
In the interest of inclusion, all text messages should be accessible by all students, including students with disabilities. Text messages will be compliant with electronic communication standards recommended to ensure compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).
For ESL students, colleges must have the ability to provide real-time translation services in order to support two-way texting with this group of students. Each college should designate a point of contact for accessibility issues and senders of message should consult with that person.
6. Best Practices
Each unit is encouraged to develop procedures and guidelines that support adherence to the policy. At minimum, the procedures and guidelines should accomplish the following:
- Distribute this policy and procedures.
- Identify a system administrator.
- Identify a publisher or a team of publishers.
- Create an annual communication plan that coordinates and details purpose, content, frequency, communications platform and target audiences of students, alumni, etc.
- Limit the number of text sent to any individual or group of students to three/month/program (admission, financial aid, advising).
- Get approval and execute the plan.
Text messages are a supplemental form of communication. Hence, these messages should be reinforced with an email, paper notice, phone call or other acceptable form of communication to ensure all students (including those without a mobile phone) receive the message.
Each message sender should utilize the following best practices:
- Ensure content is appropriate and confirm the circulation list is correct.
- Address the student directly by name.
- Clearly identify the message sender or sending unit, so recipients know immediately the message originates from a KCTCS college or system department or office.
- Use texting to communicate brief, individually targeted messages such as, but not
- Financial aid deadlines
- Bill payment deadlines
- Advising appointment reminders
- Limit the message length to 160 – 300 characters.
- Be professional (limit text slang – LOL) and courteous.
- Ensure embedded links are clearly identified as connected with your college, KCTCS or other valid partner (i.e. Barnes and Noble Bookstore).
Text messages should NOT be used for:
- Personally identifiable or private information (no pictures of drivers, license, social security accounts, bill amounts, GPAs, etc).
- General information to large populations (i.e. “Finals week begins TOMORROW!”)
- Personal matters (items for sale, etc.)
Safety and Security
- KCTCS colleges and the system office are committed to providing a safe learning and working environment for all students and employees. To meet this goal, it is important to ensure the physical and emotional safety of all students, faculty and staff. Consequently, KCTCS colleges have developed a Behavioral Intervention Team (BIT) to implement BIT plans.
- In the event a student communicates via the two-way texting platform an intent to harm him/ herself or others, the Chief Student Officer and the College President will be notified.
- Message approvers should confirm the appropriateness of the content and the accuracy of the circulation list.
- For incidents of where this policy is violated, disciplinary action as outlined by all other KCTCS and college policy will apply.
7. Records Retention
In order to provide policy/procedure under which a student was advised, all communications via Signal Vine will be retained for five years.