Set up Parent Connection in Microsoft Teams for Education

The Parent Connection in Teams for Education helps educators securely connect and engage with the parents and guardians of the students in their class teams using Teams.

This article provides guidance to education IT professionals on requirements and setup of the Parent Connection.

Share guardian and educator resources

Here are some resources IT admins can share with guardians and educators on how they can get started using the Parent Connection.

Benefits of Parent Connection

The Parents Connection allows educators and guardians to chat, email, and call using Teams.

  • Educators can initiate chats with guardians.
    • If the guardian doesn't have a Teams consumer account or hasn't yet joined Teams, they'll receive the message from the educator along with an email invite to go to Teams. This only applies in cases where the invite limits haven't been reached, and the chat is a new chat or an existing chat that has been reentered from the Parent Connection.
  • It works with Supervised chat. For more information, see Use supervised chats in Microsoft Teams.
    • By default, guardians have restricted permissions, so they can't chat with students or remove users from chats.
    • This setting can be changed by the tenant admin.
  • Educators can select a guardian's email to email them using their native email client.
  • Educators can select a guardian's phone number to call them within Teams.

Important

For click to call functionality in Teams, your tenant needs:

  • Public Branch Exchange (PBX) capabilities.
  • Connection to the PSTN.

Microsoft 365 A1 and A3 plans don't include PBX capabilities nor PSTN connection. You can purchase add-on licenses for each of these.

Microsoft 365 A5 plans only include PBX capabilities using Teams Phone System. You'll still need to purchase a Teams Calling Plan or use a third-party solution to connect to external numbers on the PSTN.

For more information on all your options to get PSTN connectivity, see PSTN connectivity options.

For more information on Teams calling licensing, see Teams add-on licensing options.

Requirements

You need to use Microsoft Graph or School Data Sync (SDS) to populate each student's parent and guardian related contact information.

Graph API

If you already use Microsoft Graph PowerShell SDK to create Student identities, you can easily include relatedContact resource type.

School Data Sync

Teams guardian contact data stays current with SIS using School Data Sync (SDS), when SDS is set up to sync regularly.

If guardian is removed from a Student's records, any existing chats involving them will contain a banner visible to chat owner. This banner will make the chat owner aware of the change, asking them to remove the guardian from the chat. Microsoft won't automatically update chat membership to remove the guardian.

  • You need School Data Sync (SDS) to populate each student's parent and guardian related contact information.

  • If you need assistance in setting up SDS and populating parent and guardian related contacts for the students in your tenant, contact the EDU Customer Success team by:

  • Currently, SDS only supports CSV-based data ingestion for Parent Contacts; however, you can use PowerSchool API Sync or OneRoster API Sync for all roster data, and just add Parent Contacts using CSV.

    • Create a second sync profile using the SDS v1 CSV format or SDS v2.1 CSV format.
    • Pull the two populated Parent files with the rest of the v1/v2.1 files empty (just the headers).
      • User.csv
      • Guardianrelationship.csv
        • The Role value needs to be completed for each parent and guardian to indicate if they're a parent or guardian.
          • Only the values of parent or guardian are supported in the app. Other values will result in errors.
          • For the SDS v1 format, it will be labeled as Role, but for the SDS v2.1 format, it will be labeled as relationshipRole.
    • To view a sample set of the CSV files, see the Minimum Required Attributes GitHub files.
    • If you want to automate pulling in the CSV files after the initial sync, read our CSV File Sync Automation document.
    • For help with setting up your SDS data sync, reach out to our customer success team or open a support ticket.

Teams admin center policies

  • Class team owners must have Teams chat turned on.
  • Class team owners must have external access with Teams accounts not managed by an organization turned on.
    • This must be turned on at the tenant level and the user level. The tenant-level setting can be found in Users > External Access in the Teams admin center. This setting can also be accessed via PowerShell. User-level external access policies can only be accessed via PowerShell. For more information, see the PowerShell commands below.
  • To allow meeting creation from the Parent Connection app, the following policies must be turned on:

Parent and guardian restrictions

Parents and guardians are classified as external users in the Parents Connection, meaning they don't have full tenant rights. They only have access to the chat or chats they're a part of and the files, images, and other content shared in the chat.

For external chats, both internal and external users can add users to the chat. To learn more about the external chat experience, see Manage external meetings and chat in Microsoft Teams.

Also, external users can see the presence (offline, available, busy, etc.) of your organization's users, but this can be turned off using PowerShell to protect users' privacy. In PowerShell, use Set-CsPrivacyConfiguration and set EnablePrivacyMode=true.

Even though parents and guardians are external users, their contributions to chats are discoverable. Learn how to conduct a Teams eDiscovery investigation by reading Conduct an eDiscovery investigation of content in Microsoft Teams.

Important

IT admins should educate all Class Owners on best practices for sharing student information over chat, including risks to student privacy.

Blocking a parent or guardian in a chat

Educators can block a guardian in chat initiated in the Parent Connection.

The class owner can:

  1. Open the guardian's profile card, select the ellipse and Block User.
  2. Then, remove the guardian from the chat.

The blocked user won't be able to start other chats with the class owner.

Allow external access with Teams accounts not managed by an organization

To allow educators to communicate with parents and guardians in Teams, the education tenant's IT admin needs to update the tenant's policies to allow external access for Teams accounts outside of the tenant. For more information on managing external access, view Manage external access in Microsoft Teams.

Here are the steps to turn on external access for parents and guardians.

  1. Install the latest Microsoft Teams PowerShell module here https://www.powershellgallery.com/packages/MicrosoftTeams.

    Install-Module -Name PowerShellGet -Force -AllowClobber
    Install-Module -Name MicrosoftTeams -AllowPrerelease -Force –AllowClobber
    
  2. Using credentials that have admin privileges, run the following commands:

    $credential = Get-Credential
    Connect-MicrosoftTeams -Credential $credential
    

    The policy setting that turns on external access with Teams accounts not managed by an organization at the user level (EnableTeamsConsumerAccess) is turned on by default for all user-level external access policies. Both the tenant-level setting and the user-level policy setting need to be turned on for a user to have external access with Teams accounts not managed by an organization. If you don't want every user in your tenant to have this access turned on, you should ensure that your tenant-level setting is turned off, update the user-level external access policies assigned to your users, and then turn on the tenant-level setting.

    To check which user-level external access policies exist and who they're assigned to, you can use the following steps:

  3. Check that user-level external access policies exist.

    Get-CsExternalAccessPolicy
    
  4. For each policy other than the 'Global' policy, check which users have the policy assigned.

    Note

    Any users who do not have a specific policy assigned will fall back to the 'Global' policy. Any new users who are added to the tenant will have the 'Global' policy assigned.

    Get-CsOnlineUser -Filter {ExternalAccessPolicy -eq "<PolicyName>"} | Select-Object DisplayName,ObjectId,UserPrincipalName
    

Since all user-level external access policies have EnableTeamsConsumerAccess set to true by default, if you would like to adjust the EnableTeamsConsumerAccess setting for specific users, you can create/modify existing external access policies with adjusted settings and/or reassign users to new or existing policies using the following PowerShell cmdlets:

Note

The following subscription default policies cannot be modified: 'FederationAndPICDefault', 'FederationOnly', 'NoFederationAndPIC'. The 'FederationAndPICDefault' policy used to be assigned to all users by default, however new users are now assigned the 'Global' policy by default. If you need to change the policy settings for users who have these subscription default policies assigned, assign different policies with the correct settings to these users.

Once the user-level external access policies are set correctly for the users in your tenant, you can turn on the tenant-level setting (AllowTeamsConsumer) for the tenant using the following cmdlet:

Turn on the Parents app in the Teams admin center

The Parents app is turned off by default, so class team owners won't see it in their class teams until it's allowed through the Teams admin center. The Parents app is turned on in the Teams admin center using Allow apps blocked by developers.

At any time, the app can be turned off at the tenant level using Allow and block apps in the Teams admin center. If it's turned off at the tenant level, it will be blocked for all users, even if user-level permissions are turned on.

The Parents app can also be turned off at the user level using Manage app permission policies in Microsoft Teams.

Set a preferred invitation channel

Admins can choose either email or SMS as their preferred Parent Connection invitation channel.

Messages sent to parents and guardians will be in plain text, without HTML, formatting, or styles applied.

Note

If you choose SMS as the preferred channel for sending Parent Connection invites to parents and guardians, be aware that:

  • Parent and guardian phone numbers must be E.164 formatted for SMS invites and profile look-up to work.
    • For example, format phone numbers as +[country code][area code][phone number], like +12223334444.
  • Mobile carrier SMS rates may be charged to parents and guardians who receive SMS invitations.

Set a preferred invite channel in the Teams admin center

  1. Sign into the Teams admin center.
  2. Go to Education > Parent and guardian settings.
  3. In the Preferred contact method field, select either Email or Mobile phone - SMS.
  4. Save your changes.

Set a preferred invite channel using PowerShell

  1. Install the 4.9.0 version or greater of the Teams PowerShell module at https://www.powershellgallery.com/packages/MicrosoftTeams.

  2. Run the command below and sign in with admin credentials.

    Connect-MicrosoftTeams
    
  3. Run the command below to view the current value for ParentGuardianPreferredContactMethod.

    Get-CsTeamsEducationConfiguration
    
  4. Run one of the commands below to change the value.

    Set-CsTeamsEducationConfiguration -ParentGuardianPreferredContactMethod Email
    
    Set-CsTeamsEducationConfiguration -ParentGuardianPreferredContactMethod SMS
    

More information