I think it’s always helpful for us teachers to look into other professions to see how they handle things like missed payments, missed appointments, and such things. I’m in a great place to do that these days with school aged and younger children. So I thought I’d share an interesting interaction I had with one of my children’s Kids Day Out program.
We had a slew of snowy days this winter and one of them happened to fall on the day one of my children has Kids Day Out. The KDO provider cancelled class that day (it was not a crazy blizzard, but there was enough snow to question driving safety) and I was curious how they were going to handle this. I watched the subsequent weeks’ newsletters and nothing was said about an extra lesson at the end or a reduction in payment for the last tuition payment. So, I just waited and wondered, thinking about how I handle snow days.
As you know through the Snow Days, Jury Duty and Illness…Oh My! post, if I cancel lessons on a snow day, I use one of my flex vacation weeks (these are unscheduled weeks of vacations which parents do not pay for). If I have used all of my flex weeks in a year, then I would give a refund for a lesson that I actually cancelled (remember no refunds are given if the student cancelled). You might also remember that parents pay a yearly tuition divided into equal payments which is exactly the way my child’s KDO program handles payments. They too have realized that this is a much easier way to pay both for parents and for teachers!
To continue the story, it was near the end of the semester and so I wrote an email to the director and her assistant and asked,
I was just wondering if there is going to be a price adjustment for May because of the snow day cancellation, if there will be an extra week of KDO, or how that is handled?
What I received was a very friendly, professional response from which we all can learn. Here is what the director said:
I am sorry to tell you that the KDO policy is that when the USD (the local united school district) closes their doors, so do we. In that case there is no refund. If by chance we elect to cancel then we will refund. Thanks for inquiring.
I wrote back:
Thanks for letting me know.
Here’s what I learned and I’m curious about your response:
- The director expressed that she understood that I might be somewhat disappointed in her response by beginning with “I am sorry to tell you…”
- She had a policy that she could fall back on (and blame) if necessary. Now I know that usually we alone are responsible for our policies, but that doesn’t mean we can’t use it to keep the response from being personal. Instead of saying, “I don’t give makeup lessons,” we can instead say, “I am sorry to tell you that policy states that makeup lessons are not given in the event of a snow day where the local school district closes.” It’s interesting to think about responding that way even if you think it’s out of your comfort zone. But you can see why an email that shifts the emphasis from YOU being harsh to your policy taking the blame might be beneficial.
- You might also note that the KDO program itself had something else to fall back on because their cancellation in which they don’t give refunds is the result of the USD’s decision.
- She reminded me that they weren’t completely unreasonable because there was indeed a provision for me to be refunded money if they could not fulfill their obligations. “If by chance we elect to cancel, then we will refund.”
- She didn’t give a long explanation about WHY they have this policy. She just closed the email courteously.
- Me? Well, I wasn’t as bothered by it after her response. It seemed to disarm any angst I had about the issue. I’m not sure why except for all the reasons cited above.
And I’ll bet she didn’t lose sleep over my inquiry.
So in case you think a no makeups policy is strict (actually, none of you have said that my policy was severe), I thought it might be helpful to share what another profession does. Actually, I’ve learned a lot from various KDO programs over the years and I’ll share more about that in weeks to come.
What do you think about this policy? Have you ever thought about this kind of snow day provision to be a part of your makeup lesson policy?