Communication is Key!

One of the important topics that the School Safety Task Force is discussing has to do with ensuring that our data base includes the most updated contact information.  One of the things we heard at the community safety forum is that not everyone received the message that was sent out about the Penn Brook threat. As we went back and tried to figure out what happened, it appears that we might not have had all of the following information for every child.

  • All parents’ names and phone numbers ( including home, work and cell)
  • All parents’ e-mail addresses that would receive a message in case of an emergency.

If you have not been receiving messages, please contact the secretary at your child’s school and she can check to ensure that you have all of the necessary contact information on file.

We use an automated feature in our Student Information Management System( Rediker/ Administrator’s Plus) called AP Notifyer. We began using this system because of its direct connection to our main data base and it doesn’t require parents to sign up nor does it require us to maintain multiple data bases.  It goes without saying however,  that the system will not send messages to anyone who is not in the database. When we checked recently, we did find some families where only one parent received the message but only one parent’s e-mail was in the database. We want to be sure this does not happen so please be sure your file is up to date.

I do want to share how this notification system works so you know what to expect.

1. There are two kinds of messages we can send out. One is an emergency message which we sent out to EVERY number that we have on file . It goes out to all contacts within a matter of minutes ( example is a snow day). The other is a community outreach message which gets sent out to the primary contact only (example reminder about open house).

2. The messages can be sent out by text, e-mail and automated phone message.  It is up to  the sender which feature/s is  selected. In cases of emergency, all of these features are scheduled and sent out at the same time to all numbers we have in the data base.

3. Informational messages that do not require immediate attention are sent out in the early evening to avoid panic when a message is received during the work and school day. If you receive a message during these times, it is a message that you want to pay attention to since it is information you might need to know.

4. I understand that some families prefer not to receive information about school events via this system and would like to opt out. We discourage you from doing this because opting out will prevent you from receiving emergency message as well.  We are aware of this concern and the Principals will try to keep posting all events to a minimum since both schools have daily or weekly communications with parents. There is one exception and that is the messages that are sent out to Penn Brook the families by 6th grade students as part of an initiative that was started by the Student Council.  They thought they could give back to the school by increasing communication and they came up with these messages as a way to do so. I applaud them for trying to be part of the communication solution.

5. We are in the process of developing a threat assessment protocol that identifies  the level of a threat and the notification process. When completed, this will be distributed to all families, posted on the websites and used in in communicating threats to families.  This will begin in the fall.

I hope this post helps to clarify the process we use to communicate with parents but it starts with an accurate data base. No need to worry if you have been receiving the messages but, if not, please contact the school office so we can update or add to the information we have on file.