A teacher surrounded by students and showing them something on a tablet-like scientific device during a school field trip

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A parent’s guide to permission slips.

Permission slips are necessary for many activities and whenever students leave school grounds. This is what’s included in permission slips and why electronic forms are the way to go.

When you’ll have to sign permission slips.

Schools need signed permission slips for:

 

  • Off-campus activities, like field trips or travel
  • Activities that involve physical risk, like shop class with power tools
  • After-school activities, like sports

Electronic permission slips make parent-teacher communication a snap. Parents are in the know faster and can add comments quickly, and schools can get the authorization they need for enriching student experiences. 

Why schools send out permission slips.

Special events can be the highlight of a school year. Afternoons at a museum, outings in state parks, or tours of workplaces can do a lot for students. But before students can leave school for the day, they need permission from their parents or guardians. To do so, schools need to have permission slips on hand.

 

To take a class on a field trip, teachers need the consent of a parent or guardian.  Permission slips are necessary for almost any school activity your children might participate in outside the classroom, or any activity with physical risk like sports and hands-on classes. If students are going to work with power tools in shop class, kilns in a pottery lesson, or sharp knives in home economics, teachers need your prior knowledge and go-ahead.

        

Permission slips can also protect schools, teachers, and other relevant parties from legal trouble if anything happens to a child. Minors cannot sign waivers that will protect schools and other institutions from legal action. Fortunately, e-signatures and electronic documents can make finalizing permission slips easy and get students going on whatever it is they’re about to explore.

Five children running toward the camera on a dirt path surrounded by a grove of trees on a school field trip

What schools include on a permission slip.

A consent form or permission slip template usually includes:

 

  • The student name
  • What activity the child will be participating in
  • The start time, end time, and date of the activity
  • An emergency contact number
  • Release of legal liability, if applicable
  • Space for a parent signature

 

You might also want to keep a paper copy of the permission slip for your own records or save it digitally as a PDF.

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Permission slips and liability.

Permission slips, waivers, and other releases of liability may prevent signees from suing organizations in some situations, but not all. Releases and waivers are not magical incantations that protect the school from getting sued in all instances, and local laws and regulations will vary. Schools, teachers, and chaperones still need to exercise common sense and good judgment while in charge of the child.

 

Check with local laws and regulations about childcare, schools, and what’s required when teachers and chaperones have minors in their care. The better the understanding of these requirements, the better you can understand your permission slips, as well as the processes and procedures schools take for safely supervising your children.

A museum guide giving a tour to a group of students and their teacher in front of marble statues
A student pointing something out to their class on an interactive map during a class trip

The perks of digital permission slips.

Paper permission slips can be hard to work with. Students have to do the work of taking them home to you, and any parent knows that paperwork is likely to get lost or damaged in children’s backpacks. Then, your children then have to get a wet signature (i.e., a physical signature on paper) from you and ferry the physical copy back to school themselves. At the end of that, the school has to be responsible for maintaining physical records.

 

Electronic documents can easily solve those problems. Instead of relying on students as couriers, parents and legal guardians like you can just check their email for a message from the teacher. You can sign documents on your phone and maintain your own electronic copy of the permission slip. That way, everyone involved has access to all of the information it entails — and teachers, school staff, and chaperones have access to your number and emergency contact information from their mobile devices. In the event that someone needs to look up a number or reach out to you, the information is just clicks away.

       

Also, if a school ever needs to create a new permission slip, it’s easy to edit a PDF and adapt text in an existing PDF form into a new one for you to fill out. A school can also convert a scan of a previous paper form into an editable PDF. Digital permission slips also make it easier for parents to add notes and additional information. For instance, if a child needs medication at a specific time or has other particular needs, digital forms have all the space in the world for those notes.

       

Once all that’s taken care of, your kids are ready to go beyond the four walls of their school. With permission slips in hand, teachers and chaperones can show them art galleries, natural wonders, centers of science and industry, and everything else the world outside the classroom has to offer.

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