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How to Create a Parent Portal Instruction Letter

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TitleHow to Create a Parent Portal Instruction Letter
SummaryThe following article is designed to walk the user through the basic steps of producing an instruction letter to help parents create their account to access the Parent Portal.

The following article is designed to walk the user through the basic steps of producing an instruction letter to help parents create their account to access the Parent Portal.

Prior To Implementation

Be a Vision SIS Client.
Have Staff-level access to Vision SIS.

Click HERE to access an article about how to navigate Vision, set favorites, and find help.

The three steps to creating a Mail Merge letter to parents for the purpose of creating a parent account are outlined in this document.

Step 1: Build Data Source Files

1. Creating the data source file that will be used in the Word document, is the first step to generating a new letter to parents.
2. Use the menu and go to School Configuration > Mail Merge > Build Data Source Files or use the search function found in the My Dashboard area (pictured below). In the search menu items area enter “mail merge.” Select Build Data Source Files from the search results. Click GO
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3. The following window opens:
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4. This operation creates a file that is used to add the merge fields to the Microsoft Word template. All areas in the setup with a red asterisk are required.

5. The Template Type is the type of data the system will gather for the mail merge letter. For this letter, select Biographical Mail Merge. This is a required field.

6. Enter Title. Enter the title for the data source file. Please note that this title will become the file name for the data source. Because of this, basic file naming conventions have to be followed. They prohibit the use of special characters: \ / : # ? “ < > and | as part of the file name. It is a good practice to enter a title similar to the type of letter in which the data fields will be used. Multiple data source files can be created for each template type. This is a required field.

7. Select the Data Fields. Depending on the template type selected, there are default fields that are automatically selected. Using the arrow buttons, you can remove or add fields to suit the needs of the letter. For this letter, in addition to the default fields, select the following: Contact’s first name, contact’s last name, and contact’s email. The other merged fields used in the sample letter are already selected for you. It is required that at least one field is selected.
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8. Click Save Data Source to create a comma separated value file (.CSV) that contains the merged fields used to create the template in the Microsoft Word. The file is saved to the local computer. Depending on the browser used and your settings, the destination folder will vary.

9. Settings. Use this to either save the settings or to recall settings previously saved.

10. Create the template letter in Microsoft Word using the Data Source File created. Use Mailings in Word to create the letter. The merged fields must be added and not typed. For best results, save the file as a .DOC and not .DOCX. Pictured below is a sample letter with the merged fields. 
This letter is to inform you that our school has added a parental portal that allows parents/guardians access to information regarding their child. If you decide to use this service, you may access various types of information regarding your child; information such as Attendance, Behavior, Grades, Scheduling information, etc.
In order for you to access your child's information, you need to establish a parent account. To create an account, please use your computer's internet browser to go to the following website:
When you access the website listed above, there is a 'Create Parent Account' button you will use to setup your account. Enter the following information EXACTLY as shown below:
Parent First Name: «CFIRSTCON»
Parent Last Name: «CLASTCON»
Parent Login Name: (Enter whatever login name you like)
If we do not list your preferred name here, please let us know before you proceed. You will create only ONE account using the student ID number listed above. Once you have created your account, you will be able to add your other children to that account.
You may enter any Parent Login Name you like. An email with login information will be sent to the email address we have on file for you: >>> «CEMAILCON» <<< If this is not the correct email address, please contact us before you proceed.
When you receive the confirmation email, click the link provided and enter your password. After you are logged in, you will see the name of your child whose ID number you entered when you created the account. If you go to the More menu and select Students, you will be able to add your other children to your account. You must know their ID numbers. If you do not know them, please contact our office and they will be emailed to you at the email address listed above.
If you have questions or concerns you would like to discuss, please call or email me and I'll be happy to assist you.
Elaine Boyd
Technology Secretary
Step 2: Manage Letter Templates
1. The second step in this process can be accessed through the Related Links pick list below the page name or through the menu path School Configuration > Mail Merge > Manage Letter Templates. This operation imports a Microsoft Word document template into Vision SIS or downloads a Word document template to your local computer for edits. All areas in the setup with a red asterisk are required.
2. The following window opens.
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3. To upload a letter template, select the same Template Type that was used to create the Data Source File. In this example, we are using Biographical Mail Merge.
4. Use the Browse button to locate the Word document on the local computer. Once the file has been selected, click OK.
5. Click Upload File.
6. To download a letter template to your computer for editing, select the Template Type. The list in the Letter Template File will contain all letter templates that have been created and uploaded with the Template Type selected.
7. Click Download File. The Word document is downloaded to the local computer. Depending on the browser used and your settings, the destination folder will vary.

Step 3: Print/Send Letters & Labels.
1. This is the third and final step in the process. This operation will take a letter template and either print and/or email the letters to the students’ contact. Go to School Configuration > Mail Merge > Print/Send Letters & Labels or use the Related Links found below the page name. All areas in the setup with a red asterisk are required.
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2.Set the Student Range if needed.

3. Select the Template Type to Biographical Mail Merge and the Letter from the appropriate pick list.

4. The Set Criteria button will allow a Biographical filter to be created to limit the students selected for whom to print this letter. This is optional.

5. The Select Date Range area does not apply to template types of Biographical Mail Merge.

6. Select Label Template. A label template in Word can be created from the CSV file created in Step 1. When uploading the label template in Step 2, select the Template Type of Label. Click the following link for more information on creating labels. How To Create Mail Merge Labels

7. Select Recipient and Sending Options.
  • Use the pick list to select the student contact type to use in the letter. The last option is Mailing Flag. If a contact has been flagged to receive mailings (Mail flag set to Yes), a letter will be printed for them. Because of this, multiple letters could be generated for each student.
  • Limit To One Letter Per Family. This option only applies to students with the same Family ID Code. For letters with specific student information, only one student’s information prints on the letter.
  • Email Settings opens the following window. Only those contacts that have both the Mail and Email flags set to Yes will receive emails through the mail merge operation.
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  • Send Report to Email. Check this box to send emails.
  • Report For. The first option here generates an email for those contacts eligible for email and will not generate letters for printing. The second option generates an email for those contacts eligible for email and generates letters for the contacts not eligible for email for printing.
  • Paper Copy as Well for Email Recipients. Check this option so that a paper copy can be printed for each contact.
  • The Email Logs button opens a list containing the logs of when the selected letter was emailed if that option was enabled in the Email Settings.
8. The Add Tracking Information area allows you to limit letters to be generated for those who have not yet received that particular letter.
Enter letter tracking number. For each letter to be tracked, a tracking number must be assigned. The tracking number must be a number between 1 and 99.  This option allows letters to be generated for only those students who have not received that letter yet when used in conjunction with other options in this operation. The pick list contains tracking numbers used for the school. To add a new tracking number, type it into the field.

Add Title. This is the description for the tracking number set in previous step.

Track letters being printed or emailed. Check this box to enable tracking for the letter being generated for the tracking number entered in step a.

Limit mailing to letters not yet printed or emailed. If a parent has already been mailed or emailed a copy of the current letter with the tracking number selected in step a, they will not receive this letter again.
Clear previously tracked letters? If Yes is selected, tracking for the selected tracking number will be cleared. This will allow parents who had previously received the selected letter, to receive it again.
View Previously Used Titles. Select the tracking number for the letter selected in Step
3. Click on Download. A PDF copy of the letters generated for that title is included. Depending on the browser used and your settings, the destination folder will vary.

9. Click Generate to produce the letters, emails and/or labels.
10. Mail Merge Output. Depending on the settings used, there are three tabs available in the output view: Letter, Email, and Label. There are two possible options for closing this view: Close and Track and Close. If a tracking number is being used, the Close and Track button will be enabled. If there is a problem with the letter that needs to be fixed before sending them out, use the Close option. This will allow you to generate the letters again. Once a letter has been produced and tracked, it cannot be generated again.
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11. Settings allow you save the current settings or recall previously saved settings.
Additional Information

Additional Tech Bytes are available at CR Tech Bytes.
Applies to VersionsVision SIS 1.0 or later.
Key WordsCR Family Portal, parent portal, mail merge, Microsoft Word, letter, create parent account, family engagement, contact name, contact email, student ID number.



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