When you’ll have to sign permission slips.

Schools need signed permission slips for:

  • Off-campus activities such as field trips or travel
  • Activities that involve physical risk such as shop class with power tools
  • After-school activities such as sports
Electronic permission slips make parent-teacher communication a snap. Parents are in the know faster and can add comments or annotate on PDF forms quickly, and schools can get the authorization they need for enriching student experiences.

What is a permission slip?

A permission slip is a form that a child’s school sends out to parents or guardians when students are going to have an outing or participate in activities that are outside of the norm. Those activities could simply be extracurricular, or they could include some risk, such as an outdoor adventure. By filling out and signing the permission slip, the child’s parent or guardian authorizes their child to participate in the activity.

Frequently, a school will send a paper permission slip home with the child to give to their parent and bring back to school. But if, for example, a field trip permission slip is lost or forgotten, the child could miss the opportunity to participate in the field trip. Because of this risk, teachers will often take the time to send out multiple reminders to parents to keep an eye out for permission slips arriving home in a child’s backpack.

What is a digital permission slip?

A digital permission slip (also known as an electronic permission slip) fulfills the same function that a traditional paper permission slip does. Instead of being sent via backpack, it is sent to parents at the email address that the school has on file. To ensure that you receive the digital permission slip forms the school sends out, make sure the school has the address for an email account that you check frequently.

When a parent or guardian receives a digital permission slip, they can electronically fill out and esign the form and send it back directly to the teacher. The parent can also easily save a copy of the form for future reference. With a digital permission slip, the time a teacher might spend reminding parents about the paper form and hoping students haven’t lost their copies can instead be spent sending a quick email to all parents and watching the replies roll in seamlessly.

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

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, learning how to create an electronic signature and sign electronic documents can make finalizing permission slips easy and get students going on whatever it is they’re about to explore.

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.

Permission slips and liability.

Permission slips, liability 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 children.

A museum guide giving a tour to a group of students and their teacher in front of marble statues

How to fill out a digital permission slip.

Parents might be familiar with the process of receiving paper permission slips, signing them, and tucking them into a brightly colored folder hoping they’ll be turned in to the teacher. If that process is familiar to you, receiving a digital permission slip could feel intimidating at first. However, if the permission slip is a fillable PDF form, you’ll see that the process of using a PDF filler is simple, intuitive, and can be done from almost any device.

Follow these steps to fill out a permission slip or waiver that’s been sent to you via email:

1 Download the permission slip PDF file attached in the email.

2 Open the permission slip in a web browser or a PDF reader.

3 Click or tap on the text fields to fill out the permission slip and type in your information.

4 For the signature field, you will be given an option to use a previously saved signature or make a new one.

5 Save the permission slip to your device.

6 Attach the newly filled-out permission slip in an email reply to the teacher who originally sent you the permission slip.

The copy of the permission slip that is saved to your device can remain there for reference. Once you receive a reply, you’ll know the teacher has access to your authorization, and your child is free to enjoy the field trip or school experience.
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, and any parent knows that paperwork is likely to get lost or damaged in children’s backpacks. Then, children have to get a wet signature (i.e., a physical signature on paper) from their parents 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 can just check their email for a message from the teacher. They can sign documents on their phones and maintain their 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 parents’ numbers and emergency contact information from their mobile devices. In the event that someone needs to look up a number or reach out to a parent, the information is just clicks away.

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.

How to expedite signature collection with digital permission slips.

Digital permission slips allow schools to collect parents’ and guardians’ signatures much more efficiently. The emails that teachers may have been sending out to remind parents to look for paper permission slips can instead be used to send the permission slips out. And instead of keeping track of paper forms, parents can quickly search their email for parent authorizations or download completed permission slips into an easily accessible folder. Using digital permission slips could save time and also prevent a student from missing out needlessly on an activity because of a forgotten paper form.

If a school ever needs to create a new permission slip, it’s easy to learn how to create a fillable PDF, or edit a PDF and adapt text in an existing PDF form into a new one for you to fill out. A school can also take a scan of a previous paper form and convert PDF to text to turn it into an editable PDF document.

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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