The Parent/Student Portal is not completely focused on parents creating their own portal accounts. Accounts can be created in mass or updated automatically as email addresses are entered within Aeries. Using these automated methods will avoid having to issue the required information including VPC codes to your parents and students. These methods also prevent parents from registering as students and vice versa since they are not creating their accounts directly. It also allows for more control over who has access to the portal, because there is no way to register for an account.
Define Email Text
Before continuing with auto or mass-create, default email templates need to be reviewed and populated. This is managed from the Define Email Text form in Aeries. This allows system administrators to define the email text that Aeries will send when the following types of events occur:
New Student Account – when an email address is placed into the Student Email STU.SEM field and that email address has not been previously assigned to a student account. Students are sent their username and password in this email.
Edit Student Account – when an email address is placed into the Student Email STU.SEM field and that email address already has an account that can view another student. This situation is rare and not necessarily recommended, but could be possible if multiple children share the same email address.
New Parent Account – when an email address is placed into the STU.PEM or CON.EM fields and that email address has not been previously assigned to a parent account. Parents are sent their username and password in this email.
Edit Parent Account – when an email address is placed into the STU.PEM or CON.EM fields and that email address already has an account that can view another student. This situation is common for parents with multiple students in the school or district.
These emails are set up for each school, so the text can be different for each school. The system sends these emails “from” the Portal Confirmation Email Address for each school. This field must be populated on the School Options page.
The Email Text is customizable with the built-in WYSIWYG editor, or with HTML markup. Placeholders to include data from some fields can be used. [NM] can be used to include the name of the parent/guardian. [STU.NM] can be used to include the name of the student. Other STU fields may also be used. A specialized [username] and [password] placeholder should be used to give the person the username of their account (email address) and the randomly generated password that gets created by the system.
Auto-Create Accounts is an option that when turned on will automatically create new accounts, and update existing portal accounts when email addresses are entered or changed within Aeries. Note: to use this feature, Define Email Text must be configured first.
This option can be turned on within Aeries Web under School Info | Portal Management | Auto/Mass Create Portal Accounts. The first section of this screen handles Auto-Create/Manage options. You have the option to auto-create Student accounts, Parent accounts, or both.
There is also an option NOT to Auto-Create/Manage accounts if the student record is inactive. If this option is selected, only active student records will trigger the account creation or modification when email addresses are entered, changed, or removed.
Note: These three options are specific to the currently logged in school. Each school can have different settings for these options.
Once these options have been configured, entering e-mail addresses within the system will trigger the account creation or modification emails to parents or students as defined. This is supported with Student email addresses (STU.SEM), Contact email addresses (CON.EM), as well as parent/guardian email (STU.PEM).
As part of automated account creation, it may be useful to require parents and students to change their password upon the first login after they enter their assigned password. To accomplish this, go to the Configure Password Requirements form, and select Parents and Students group and set the Force Users to Change Passwords Every option to any number. Tip: if you only want users to change their password once, and not require them to change it again, set the value to a high number such as 900 months in this example.
Note: Requiring users to change their password with the option above will immediately require any user to change their password if they have never done so. Technically this will require any account that has a NULL date in the Password Last Changed (PWA.PLC) field to change their password.
Also when creating accounts automatically, it may be useful to prevent parents from creating their own accounts manually, even if they have the VPC code. On the School Options page at the District level, there is an option to Disable Create New Account. With this option checked, the Create New Account link will be completely hidden on the login page, and parents will not be able to create accounts manually.
There are also options for Disable Student Change Password and Disable Parent Change Password, as well as Disable Student Change Email Address and Disable Parent Change Email Address on the school options page. The password options may be useful if the District is assigning standardized passwords to student accounts and do not want them to be changed, or want them to match passwords stored in other systems. Doing such a process is outside the scope of this document, but can be accomplished with other tools such as SQL automation. Disabling students from changing their email address may be useful when automatically populating the student email address field in Aeries, or when using Google account creation. Using the standard automated account creation will create the accounts with a random password as described above.
Maintaining Email Addresses with Auto-create
When updating, adding, or removing email addresses within the system, accounts will automatically get created, updated, and deleted as needed. The parent and/or student will be emailed their account information as defined in Define Email Text section above; however, as emails are updated in the system the user will be prompted on certain actions that are required and special emails will be sent as necessary. It is recommended that email addresses be stored in the Contact record (CON.EM), and not in the parent email address field (STU.PEM).
When changing Contact or Parent email addresses, the system will check to see if there is an existing portal account. If there is, you will be prompted to either Replace the old account with the new email address, or Create a New Account leaving the old account intact.
After clicking Replace Old Account, a special email will be sent to the old and new email address notifying the parent that their account username has changed.
If the system detects that an email address is in use in other areas of the system, you will be prompted to update them. Clicking Yes will update all other contact or student records with the new email address. Clicking No will only update the current record you are working with.
When attempting to delete a Contact or blank out an email address on a Contact, and it is tied to a portal account, you will be prompted to either Remove or Leave Account. Clicking Remove will remove the portal account completely. Clicking Leave Account will leave the account in place. Either option will allow you to delete the contact record.
Clicking Remove will trigger a special email sent to the old email address, letting the parent know they no longer have access to the student.
If there is an existing account, and the Portal field is changed to No, the following message will display, giving the user the option to either Remove the account or Leave Account intact.
Note: It is generally not recommended to have active portal accounts where the portal field is set to No. Emails are not sent to contacts where AP = N. In this case, clicking Leave Account may be the appropriate choice.
Mass Create Accounts
Portal accounts can be mass created on demand with a single click of a button. This feature can be used instead of or in conjunction with the auto-create or manual create options explained previously.
This will allow with a single click, creating accounts for any parent or student who doesn’t already have one. For the Mass Create process, pre-enrolled students will be included if the option to “Include Pre-Enrolled Students” is left checked.
Student accounts will be created based on the email address in STU.SEM. Parent accounts will only be created for STU.PEM or CON.EM if Allow access to portal (CON.AP) is set to Yes (Y), and who don’t already have an account. CON.EM is the recommended location to store parent email addresses.
If the account already exists but does not have access to the student, then access to the student will be granted, and the account will receive the Edit Parent Account or Edit Student Account notification email. This is common in situations where a parent’s email address is listed in the Contacts for multiple students.
Note: The options must be set appropriately each time the Mass Create Accounts process is run. These options are separate from the Auto-Create/Manage options discussed earlier. This function also applies only to the currently logged in school, however, this function is also available to run at the District level for any or all schools.
Import from Aeries Online Enrollment
When importing/adding a student from Aeries Online Enrollment, parent accounts will be automatically created at the time of the import if auto create is turned on and configured. Student accounts are not automatically created.
If Google is set up as an identity provider for student accounts, entering student email addresses will still automatically create accounts or mass create accounts as necessary based on STU.SEM as previously mentioned. If the domain of the email matches what is specified in Identity Providers, it will not include a password in the email and instead read “Your current Google account's password”.
If Google integration is configured so that Aeries is automatically creating and managing Google accounts for students, then the Google student sync process will honor each school’s option to Auto-Create Student Portal accounts and will automatically create new Student Portal accounts matching the Google account as needed.