District Launches new Rapid Alert System to Notify Parents of Emergencies

Tuesday, February 28, 2017

The district has launched a new system for notifying parents and guardians quickly of a campus emergency.

Rapid Alert will send a text message to the cell phones of parents or guardians if an incident occurs on campus that will disrupt the school day or require an early dismissal.

This system provides an additional tool for quickly notifying parents/guardians and staff, above and beyond the district's current SchoolMessenger notification system.

Because a text message only allows for 160 characters, messages will be brief, but will provide pertinent details and any necessary instructions.

The Rapid Alert emergency notification system was officially launched Feb. 8 with a test text to all parents and guardians with easy to follow instructions on how to "opt in" to the system. The district asked parents to "opt in" because text messages can impact data plans.

The Rapid Alert texts are sent to the emergency cell phone number schools have on file for each student.

For Rapid Alert to be successful, it's critical that parents make sure that their emergency cell phone number on file is accurate. Parents should let their schools know if there has been an emergency cell phone number change.

So what kind of safety issue will warrant a Rapid Alert? The district determined that the system will be used if there is a safety issue at a school site that is either going to disrupt the school day or require an early dismissal.

Examples of this type of emergency are a gas leak, a water main break, a foggy day schedule, power outage, or a safety issue involving police action that directly impacts school arrival and/or dismissal.

The district will continue to use SchoolMessenger phone messages sent either by the district or school to inform parents of important information.

But Rapid Alert allows the district to send a visual text message to help ensure parents receive an important message quickly, and in English, Spanish and Hmong.