Also see: Preparing for a Pandemic.
School Emergency Plans
- Please access this NAIS page for templates and samples of emergency and crisis planning documents.
- Lausanne School Action Plan
Emergency Communications Systems Planning
Consider that for each student/family you may potentially make 5 calls: (2 cell phones, 2 office numbers, one home phone). You want the emergency system to broadcast quickly and not be physically located on or near your campus. You probably want a service that is directly tied into communications infrastructure and capable of making hundreds of concurrent calls a minute. For an overview of the types of technologies involved in mass notification please see: Mass Notification Systems. Also consider that in major emergencies, cell phone service may go down. Some schools have also decided to have a satellite phone and/or a ham radio on site.
Automated phone dialing broadcast systems
(Several of these are also listed in the next section because in addition to mass phone dialing, they will also send mass emails, sms messages, etc.)
- Honeywell - We use Honeywell Instant Alert. It uses text and voice, you can get telephone messages at multiple numbers as well as e-mails. It has worked well so far (we are in our 2nd year and we get a good number of snow day closures up here).
- We use Send Word Now and have been very happy with their product and their customer service.
- We use Azian. In our trial runs it has proven effective.
- Connect-EdConnect-ED is a tremendously powerful, efficient and user-friendly communications tool which our community of 28 schools, 29,000 students and 3,500 staff now considers the backbone of our district communications plan. In fact, we have to remind people sometimes that Connect-ED is just one part of our communications system because so many have come to rely on us using Connect-ED to share all manner of information, from the most "local" school planning news, to the biggest "crisis" communications. Simply put, Connect-ED is the best system out there.
- Desktop Alert
- Berbee IP Paging
- Digal Acoustics IP Paging
- NEC's Campus Notification System
- School Messenger -- It interfaces with SASI. We use it to send out general information messages to parents, however, it does have the capability of sending an attendance message as well. We use a software based version that is installed locally. There is also a web-based version. I find it fairly easy to work with and have had few problems with it.
- Teleparent - We have just begun using a system called Teleparent. It seems to be a great system. You login as a teacher or administrator. They call between 5PM and 9:PM. You get a report of who was called including busy, no answer and out of service data. It is very easy to use. I can report missing assignment, discipline, attendance and positive comments for 90 students in 10 to 15 minutes. Students don't like it. I had a 30%+ improvement in completed homework the first week:-)
- BlazeCast Notification & IP Paging
Phone, text messenging, sms, desktop & email alert systems
- BEAMS Full-screen computer alerts with SMS/Text Messaging
- Desktop Alert
- Rave Wireless (includes GPS location)
- Roam Secure
- AlertNow - I've used it at two different schools now, and it's worked well. The website is cumbersome, but the service is easy to use and very comprehensive - multiple voice lines, email, web- and phone-based interfaces for sending messages, pre-recording, group lists for sending targeted messages, text-to-speech capabilities, and excellent reporting for seeing who received your messages. They gave us a good on-site demonstration and training, too.
- FinalSite - We have moved our website over to FinalSite who has an excellent Alert system that allows for parents to sign up for SMS messaging. This would be great for parents to sign up and receive emergency news, updates, etc.
- SchoolsOut - Their basic email and web service is free, but parents can opt to pay $20/year to receive SMS.
- Schoohoo - Free text or email alert notification system.
- SendWordNow - We use Send Word Now for voice, SMS and email. You can select what communications channels you want to use for each message (voice only, SMS only or both). We generally send out announcements using voice only (we have another broadcast system for each mail) and reserve SMS for emergencies.
- SIREN - very low cost Web-based application for sending mass notifications to opted-in receivers via cell phone text message & email. Highly customizable: administrator can organize recipients by group.
- clearTXT Founded in 2003 by former Blackboard employees. Hosted solution for SMS text messaging. Fully integrated with Blackboard to provide academic messaging in addition to crisis SMS messaging. Have been emergency SMS provider for Grand Rapids Community College since 2005, and has been utilized during multiple crises. Excellent service and support, very user-friendly interface. Other clients include: University of Cincinnati, University of Memphis, Clemson University, Estrella Mountain Community College, Seton Hall University.
- Whipple Hill Push Pages
- BlazeCast Notification & IP Paging
- NetSupport Notify desktop alert software.
You can just use an existing mass-email system to generate a mass SMS (if you have your consituents' cell numbers and carrier information) since most carriers have email to sms options:
- T-Mobile: email@example.com
- Virgin Mobile: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Cingular/ATT: email@example.com
- Sprint: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Verizon: email@example.com
- Nextel: firstname.lastname@example.org
For more info on this, please see: http://www.tech-recipes.com/rx/939/sms_email_cingular_nextel_sprint_tmobile_verizon_virgin
Articles & Resources
- Andy Carvin's article in the wake of the Virginia Tech shooting.
Retrieved & synthesized from ISED-L list-serv 07-08, CC3.0 a, s-a, nc license