Sunday, May 23, 2010

Worcester schools to send text alerts

Next year, Worcester County parents and students will know about school closings and delays as quickly as they can read a text message.

Like many colleges and universities, Worcester public schools will soon have the automated notification system for high-priority messages, such as early dismissals, school closings and emergencies. The school board approved spending $12,400 to buy the SchoolMessenger notification system.

Jon Andes, superintendent of Worcester County schools, said the system would be good for alerting parents in situations such as this year's sudden closure of Pocomoke schools on the day a water main broke.

"This'll allow us, in an automated way, to alert parents in a situation such as that," Andes said.

SchoolMessenger was chosen over five other systems for its capabilities, which include language translation and e-mail notification, among other things. The system will even automatically call the homes of high school students who are absent from school, according to Student Information Technology Instructor Gil Beety.

A federal grant earmarked for technology will be used to buy and maintain the system, which is expected to be in use by the beginning of the 2010-11 school year.


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