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How do I set up Automated Announcements with Merge Fields?
How do I set up Automated Announcements with Merge Fields?
Andrew M. avatar
Written by Andrew M.
Updated over a week ago

SchoolStatus Connect allows schools and districts to automatically send messages to individual families, based on data from the Student Information System.

Automated Announcements are often used as Attendance Notifications (email, SMS, phone call). More information about the basic version of Automated Announcements can be found here.

One of the lacking pieces of a standard Automated Announcement is the capability to add student-specific information into the email/SMS message. This information may include student name, campus name, date and reason for the absence, classes, etc.

With the updated version of the automated announcements, it is now possible to achieve.

What Changed

The process of setting up automated announcements with merge fields is very similar to the standard automated announcements setup. It is necessary to:

  1. Prepare an announcement template

  2. Specify the Sender and the Context the announcements are sent from

  3. Set up the automated CSV file transfer via SFTP

Below are the main differences between the two types of automated announcements from the setup and the functionality perspective.

Announcement Template

The announcement template used for automated announcements may include merge fields. Merge fields must be enclosed with double curly braces.

For example, if the message needs to include student name and campus name, the template may look like this:

{{studentName}} was marked absent today at {{schoolName}}.

Please note that merge fields are not highlighted in the interface when you edit a template and look like the rest of the text.

The template may include as many merge fields as you need.

CSV File

CSV file that triggers the automated announcement sending may now include additional columns with values for the merge fields you use in the Announcement Template.

To support the Announcement Template from above, your CSV file will need to include three columns: studentSisId, studentName, schoolName.

You may use any format for the merge field names, e.g. studentName, or student_name. But these names must be the same in both the template and the CSV file. Merge fields are case-sensitive.

One Per Recipient vs One Per Student Notification

Standard automated announcements produce one notification per recipient, while automated announcements with merge fields produce one notification per student.

This means that if two students from the same family are missing their classes, their guardians will receive two separate notifications, one per student.

SchoolStatus Connect Connect Reports

Unlike standard automated announcements, automated announcements with merge fields are currently excluded from SchoolStatus Connect Reports.

Sender's Feed

Automated announcements with merge fields are not displayed in the sender's district/school/classroom feed.

Recipient's Feed

For the recipient, the announcement will no longer show the total amount of families it was sent to. It will always say for 1 Family.

SchoolStatus Connect Side

When you set up automated announcements, please notify our support representative whether you'd like to use the standard version of the feature or the version that supports merge fields.

Testing The Setup

SchoolStatus Connect recommends performing a test run before enabling automated announcements to make sure that merge fields and student IDs are recognized correctly.

You may send us a test file with data just for a few students. If you cannot generate a test file, we may help you with testing by manipulating your real files manually. Once an automated announcement is set up and before it's enabled, we'll replace your CSV file with a modified one that includes the same information but just for one student. It may be any student of your choice or any random student from the CSV file shared with us. We'll then enable the automated announcement so that it's sent to that student's family. Once it's sent, we'll provide you with visuals of how it looks.

Once you confirm that the setup was done correctly, we'll leave the automated announcement enabled so that it can process future CSV files.

Edge Cases

It is important to make sure that you send us accurate data so that guardians do not receive misleading information in their notifications. We recommend verifying with your data team how students who miss multiple classes in one school, or multiple classes in all their schools are shared with us in the CSV files. The main purpose of this verification is to make sure that CSV files do not include wrong information - e.g. if a student attends two schools and only missed classes in one of them, the files should only mention one school.


Do both the announcement title and the message support merge fields?

  • Currently, only the announcement message supports merge fields. But in March, 2024 we will add support for the merge fields in announcement title.

How do automated announcements work if the CSV file includes duplicated records?

  • Before sending notifications, the system merges records if they point to the same student. For example, if the CSV file includes studentSisId, studentName, schoolName columns, and two rows indicate that the same student missed classes in two schools, the system will merge two rows into one while also removing the duplicate values of merge fields and keeping the unique values present. Please see the original file:

    And how it be modified before it will get processed:

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