SAILS Resources for Faculty

The Virginia Community College System and Thomas Nelson Community College launched an email early alert system in the fall of 2013 in order to help identify students who are in need of support, resources, or information. Thomas Nelson students may not be aware of all of the resources available to them, which can help them be more successful in their classes.   

There are three components to this early alert system, which has been named SAILS—Student Assistance and Intervention for Learning Success. 

  1.  At key points in the semester, instructors are provided progress surveys to complete which serve to alert students and student services staff that they are concerned about their likelihood of success in the course. These reasons include nonattendance, low participation, low quiz/test scores, and behavior.  These alerts come to students in the form of emails, which request that the student go to see the instructor. 
  2. All instructors have access to the SAILS early alert system; therefore, all instructors can identify students who can benefit from seeing the instructor or seeking out student services.
  3. In addition, the College has purchased another piece of this program called Connect, which facilitates appointment making, note taking, and resource listing.  All College personnel who have a role in SAILS have access to these functions.

The resources below help faculty to better understand and utilize the components of the SAILS system.

Short videos offer instruction on a variety of features of SAILS.  The list includes:

  • How to update your Profile
  • How to create office hours
  • How to take attendance
  • How to respond to a progress survey
  • Alert and referral notifications
  • Appointment notifications
  • How to close the loop
  • How to take attendance

All of these short videos can be found at this url.

Whether the faculty member notifies a student of a concern via a progress survey or by manually “raising a flag”, an email goes to the student, which requests that the student comes to see the faculty member. (The only exception to this is in the case of a General Concern flag.  General concern flags go directly to the Student Services staff for their resolution and a copy does not go to the student.) If the faculty member meets with the student and comes to some resolution, then the faculty member should take a moment and close the loop and clear the flag.  Faculty members are responsible for clearing the flags that they raise for:

  • Assignment concerns
  • Participation concerns
  • Low quiz/test scores
  • Behavior

The Student Services staff is responsible for following up on General Concerns, Attendance Concerns, In Danger of Failing, and 3 or 5 flags.  They will email and telephone the student.  After they have made at least two attempts to get in touch with the student, they will send the faculty member an email, which will inform the faculty member that they have not been successful in reaching out to the student.  If they are able to contact the student and can provide a meaningful intervention, then the Student Service staff member will update the faculty member via email and close the loop.  If the concern persists, then the faculty member may raise the flag again. 

Here is a SAILS Tracking Item Guide, which identifies the flag types and who follows up with each type of flag.

If you have questions, please email