News

Receive Emergency Text Messages

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

New service alerts parents of closings and other
school-related emergencies

Now parents can be alerted to school closings and other school-related emergencies via text message and e-mail through School Alert — a new service made possible by the I-KAN Regional Office of Education’s Emergency Response and Crisis Management Project and the Kankakee County Sheriff’s Department.

“During a crisis or emergency situation, communication between the schools and parents is critical,” said Gregg Murphy, assistant to the Regional Superintendent of Schools. “School Alert’s state-of-the-art technology can do this.” Text messaging has proven to be a much more reliable way of communicating. “A deluge of calls during a crisis can overload communication systems — making voice calls on cell phones or land lines virtually impossible. But because text messaging requires fewer network resources, the system isn’t prone to overloading and the communication is much more likely be received,” he explained.

Examples of emergency uses for School Alert include severe weather warnings and weather-related school closings, emergency and crisis situations and reunification procedures for parents and students. Individual schools also can customize the program to accommodate non-emergency needs for contacting parents using School Alert’s e-mail system. Only emergency warnings are sent as text messages.

School Alert is part of Sheriff Alert – the Kankakee County Sheriff Department’s Mass Notification System. Funding from a federal Emergency Response and Crisis Management grant made it possible for the I-KAN Regional Office of Education to purchase licenses for any public or private school wanting to participate. “The response from schools has been tremendous,” Murphy continued. “Ninety percent of our public school districts and many non-public schools have opted to participate.”

Registering for School Alert is easy and free. From the website at schools.sheriffalert.com users register their e-mail address and cell phones and choose which types of messages and safety alerts they want to receive. They also have the ability to update and change their preferences at the same website.

There is no cost to use either School Alert or Sheriff Alert – except for the per text message fee that may be charged by individual cell phone providers. There is no charge to receive e-mails.

Sheriff Alert has been operating since last spring and Murphy hopes that participating schools will be ready to offer the service to parents of their students by mid-January.

To learn if your child’s school is part of the School Alert Mass Notification System, visit schools.sheriffalert.com.

I-KAN Press Release

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