At SchoolReach we preach balance and centralized control – using the notification service for the most important matters and keeping the decision to send parent broadcasts in the hands of the school principal or district leadership for district wide announcements. Certainly any instance that causes an unplanned school closing is prime material for a an automated parent announcement.
There is a great article out today, which you can read HERE, which illustrates a great example of the consequences of under communicating in the face of a school closing event.
In this event, the El Paso Independent School District was forced to close an elementary and high school campus just hours before the start of school due to a SWAT Team action near campus that started Sunday evening and extended into Monday morning.
For some reason, even though the district officials had a rapid notification system at their disposal, the school officials decided to rely solely on the media to get the word out to parents that school would be closed. Unfortunately, not all parents and students were tuned into the news and many showed up for school, including bus drivers with students on board!
During our recent Professional Development webinar on Lock-down Communication Best Practices, this exact topic was covered – if and when to announce? We learned first hand from Principal Chuck Thompson that anything effecting normal school operations should be communicated to parents and the announcement should be made as soon as solid facts are known.
At issue is this fact: if you don’t control your message, others will control it for you. In the case of El Paso ISD parents and students were left confused and were forced to call the district for the facts, causing extra work, frustration, and causing parents to question the response of their district leaders.
When it comes to unplanned school closings, or anything that affects normal operations or where parents may have cause for concern -always announce. Let the bake sale or fund raiser be the announcement you skip.
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