Smethport District, Cheshire Academy Deploy Parent Alerts
- By Dian Schaffhauser
A number of K-12 schools and districts have gone public with their adoption of an emergency notification service from Omnilert. e2Campus is used to communicate with parents, teachers, staff, and others during emergency situations and routine events. Among the new deployments are Smethport Area School District in Pennsylvania and Cheshire Academy in Connecticut.
"For school emergencies, e2Campus text and voice messages eliminate the need for a phone tree," said George Romanowski, superintendent of the Smethport district. "The most invaluable piece is notifying parents during the school day of emergencies and early dismissals. We can quickly get the message to them at work so they can make arrangements for sons and daughters arriving home a couple hours early. The parents' feedback has been very, very positive."
"e2Campus is the most straightforward, simple-to-use system that we reviewed," he added. "I've had no problem using my laptop from home to close school at 5:30 a.m. It's been very effective with instantaneous messages. We can alert one elementary school's staff and parents or alert the general population. The principals find it easy to use for cancellations and rain outs.
During an April incident the district used e2Campus to notify parents that a pistachio salad on the menu wouldn't be served that day, immediately after the FDA issued a food warning on pistachios. "This was very timely and probably saved us from many phones calls from concerned parents," he said.
Charlie Mitchell, director of community life at Cheshire Academy said the service has been useful at his school to report weather closures, "I got a number of calls and e-mails from parents who were so glad not to have to deal with watching a little scroll on TV and not have to wait for the alphabet to come around if they missed it. The parents were just as excited about the technology as the students."
Mitchell pointed out that even though cell phone use isn't allowed in classrooms, in the event of an emergency, the service would be of use to students too. "We've decided the odds are that enough people are going to get the alert and spread the alert that it's worth it. And, once they turn on their phones, they will get the alert," he said. "e2Campus adds a layer that genuinely helps kids stay connected in a way that keeps them safer."
Other new users include Malvern Preparatory School in Pennsylvania and Seattle Country Day School in Washington State.
Dian Schaffhauser is a senior contributing editor for 1105 Media's education publications THE Journal and Campus Technology. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @schaffhauser.