By Paul Langhorst – March 7, 2013
To say that the relationship between schools and the weather is “love-hate” would be a pure understatement. When the weather is good, school is in session, things run smoothly, and there is no need to communicate late-breaking decisions with parents, faculty and students. When the weather is severe, things are not so good. Buses can run late, staff and faculty can be late, student absences increase, expenses go up, classes can get cancelled or shortened, and events and activities can be affected. In short, when severe weather hits, lots of alerts need to be quickly shared with parents, faculty and staff.
With snow pounding the Upper Midwest and Northeast yet again, it’s fitting that this week is being recognized as National Severe Weather Preparedness Week. Promoted and sponsored by NOAA, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (more commonly called the National Weather Service), the goal of Severe Weather Preparedness Week is to bring increased attention to severe weather and its impact on life.
Here at SchoolReach, we believe that this week should also be called School Notification Awareness Week. Severe weather has a significant impact on school life, and a school notification system can play a helpful role in response to severe weather.
Severe weather requires a watchful eye and rapid response plan. Schools leaders must be aware of all that is occurring at their facilities, know where their students might be, and be able to make decisions regarding the continuation of normal schedules and activities. Most importantly, they need to be able to communicate their decisions to their school population.
When severe weather strikes, the majority of school administrators now reach for their school notification system to broadcast school closings, late starts, schedule changes, and bus delay alerts to parents and staff. The ease with which an entire school population can be notified is truly amazing, and with the same ease, individual classes, grades, groups or bus routes can be reached.
Thanks to NOAA and National Severe Weather Preparedness Week, many schools leaders are now focusing on their severe weather response capabilities. We’d like to suggest that they also focus on their school notification systems, making sure that appropriate personnel are trained, parent contact information is up to date, and that parents are aware of the programs and their use. If your school does not have a parent notification system, get one! Considering the dramatically low cost and ease of operation, a school notification system such as SchoolReach should be a staple of school administration.