It’s the moment we know you’ve all been waiting for … SNO Distinguished Sites season is back! Starting tomorrow, Oct. 1, our SNO Distinguished Sites awards program will be open for business.

Starting tomorrow, you’ll submit for badges on your own site dashboard, in the tab for SNO Badges. There, you’ll be able to track your progress, submit content to Best of SNO, and receive feedback from our awards coordinator.

As is the case every year, some badge requirements have changed. Here are the major changes to take note of.

Continuous Coverage Badge

In the past, to complete the “Sustained Coverage” portion of this badge, you needed to publish two fully-developed stories per week in four different categories on your website over the course of four weeks. In other words, over the course of one month, we asked you to produce 32 new stories total.

This year, we are only requiring four fully-developed stories in each of four categories, over the course of four consecutive weeks. Therefore, at the end of the four week period, you should have four new stories in each category and 16 new stories total.

Site Excellence Badge

Over the summer, our developers were hard at work redesigning a few widgets that hadn’t been touched in a while, and retiring a few others: the SNO Video Category Display widget and the Display Stories by Tag widget. Because these widgets are now considered “deprecated,” we don’t want to see them on your website’s homepage anymore. To meet the badge requirements, they will need to be replaced by the SNO Story List widget.

We have also noticed that many of you seem adverse to change when it comes to your website’s homepage design. For this reason, this year we want to see that your homepage has undergone at least three substantial design changes, demonstrating an awareness of how to use your website’s design tools.

Multimedia Badge

Although none of the actual Multimedia badge requirements are changing, it is fine to use video and audio interviews that are recorded over Zoom, Skype or any other online platform in the content that you submit to us. Although the shots may not be as pretty, and the audio may not be as clear, our reviewers will keep these circumstances in mind.

We also recognize that many of you may not be in a physical classroom these days and may not have access to some of the materials that you typically would. However, we know most of your students have phones in their pockets and are skilled at using them. Just in case, we’ve created a series of curriculum lessons on how to take and edit photos, create videos, and produce podcasts using only a smartphone.

Last year, more publications participated in the program than ever before with 63 student publications earning Distinguished Sites status, and 264 publications earning at least one badge. Although the circumstances this year are abnormal to say the least, we know your students are innovative and are up to the challenge.

Good luck!