It sure is frustrating when the door won’t open-hang in there and things will get better :)
The advantage of a collections project is that there is no need to ‘add’ the observations individually. Instead the software finds all the observations that match the requirements chosen and bingo bango, they are in the project.
For this to work for a collections project for observations from a specific group of individuals, the project organizers have to add each persons user name to the requirements. Then the software knows that their observations should be included.
this is is sort of covered in the paragraph describing the user requirement - but I can see how the consequence of no observations due to not having all the students names entered is a bit shocking to the system.
If the number of students is way too many to seriously consider entering all their names in the rush of September school activities, I might be inclined to remove the user requirement and take all the observations in the geographical area. You would still be able to see where your students fall in the leader boards and would gain from seeing the observations from others using iNaturalist in the area.
Best wishes for your continued success - My favorite part of the adventure is the fun…as it makes the best stories :)