The Waterford School District now has a new way to reach parents, faculty and staff with news of an emergency within minutes.
The district has announced it will immediately utilize the Blackboard Connect communication service, which will allow the district to send personalized voice messages to up to six phone numbers and two e-mail addresses per person.
Messages will also be sent through text messages.
“Today we are forced to prepare for emergency situations that years ago we never could have anticipated happening,” Superintendent John Silveri said in a press release. “We recognize the important role that immediate communication plays in safety as well as with ongoing parent outreach initiatives.
“We have selected Blackboard Connect because of its successful track record and multi-modal capabilities that will allow us to keep parents and staff informed.”
School and Community Services Director Rhonda Lessel said the project had been in the planning stages for a year and a half.
She added that funding for the system was being made possible through a $188,512 grant the district received last year from the U.S. Department of Justice COPS Secure Our Schools Program.
The funds went toward improving security measures in the district through things like building surveillance cameras, installing surveillance cameras and GPS tracking systems on buses, and using amplification systems to increase radio signal coverage.
“We’re utilizing the system for emergency messaging such as school closures,” Lessel said. “We can also place attendance calls out to parents to inform them of a student’s absence and also send outreach messages informing about PTA meetings and other school events.”
She added that the district is testing the system this month by sending messages to parents, staff and faculty welcoming them to the system.