IT WAS A NORMAL TUESDAY AT HOBGOOD ELEMENTARY School in Murfreesboro, Tenn., until a janitor noticed a fire in one of the classrooms. After evacuating children and notifying firefighters and police, Principal Barbara Sales contacted the central office to send an emergency notification to parents with a communications service provided by AlertNow.
AlertNow is a Web-based rapid notification and instant communication service that enables schools throughout the United States to deliver tens of thousands of voice or text messages to phones and email addresses within minutes.
At Hobgood Elementary, parents knew their children were safe within 30 minutes of the fire being discovered. “We did not have a bunch of parents coming and checking their students out of school,” said Ms. Sales. “AlertNow gave them enough information and our parents did not panic.”
According to School Community Relations Coordinator Cheryl Harris, parents would have been frantic if the news of the fire spread by word-of-mouth. In this case, only two or three parents arrived at the school. The prompt message notified, calmed and reassured the community. Harris said, “We now have greater control of distributing and controlling our messages in an emergency situation. At all times, our parents know that we get a message to them in minutes with timely, accurate information.”
As director of administration for the Wappingers School District in New York, Tom Stella faced the challenge of improving attendance at the high schools. Considering the number of high school students in the district, it was difficult to inform parents of their children’s truancy in a timely manner.
AlertNow’s Web-based communication service has been in place at Wappingers School District since 2004. The solution has completely automated the process of documenting attendance and removed previous obstacles. Wappingers now captures student attendance period by period, and notifies the parents of their children’s absences the same day. The AlertNow system helped Wappingers increase high school attendance 1 percent, which equals 60 more students attending class each day.
“Our district was one of the first to use AlertNow and it’s clearly working as our attendance numbers continue to improve,” added Stella. “The Web-based service enables us to easily deliver messages to inform parents and our success has caused many nearby towns to utilize the solution.”
Prior to adopting AlertNow, Marion County Public Schools in Florida communicated through internal and external quarterly newsletters. Today, Marion County’s schools use AlertNow for a wide variety of communications needs. District personnel can schedule and create custom messages for parents of all students or smaller groups such as staff members, individual departments, or classes, thus ensuring timely, accurate communications in the format that recipients prefer.
“We wanted to put a system in place that would allow us to use it how we wanted to,” said Kevin Christian, public relations officer for Marion County Public Schools. “Alert-Now provides that for us.” Messages are sent to announce information such as early release days, school events, test summaries, or important papers that are being sent home with students.
Furthermore, parents with English as a second language (ESL) students benefit from having accurate information that is easy to understand in their native language. Marion County recently added the AlertNow Multi-lingual and text-to-speech translation features to help engage the Hispanic community.
“Each day we discover more ways to leverage AlertNow to send meaningful and timely communications to our parents,” said Christian.
For more information please visit www.alertnow.com or call 1-866-508-5105.