School district adds text alerts

Published: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.
Last Modified: Wednesday, August 28, 2013 at 3:51 p.m.

New this school year, parents will have the opportunity to receive emergency texting to alert them of school- or district-wide emergencies that will require their immediate attention.

Jackie Johnson, public information officer for the school district, said the new emergency text alert system would be used at the discretion of the school district and school principals for emergencies such as a school's lock down or evacuation, hurricanes and other emergencies.

To take advantage of the emergency texting system, Johnson said parents must indicate they want to receive texts and provide a textable cell phone number on their child's emergency contact form.

Johnson said it's very important for parents to keep their child's emergency contact form updated so they can be alerted in case of an emergency, such as their child becoming ill, injured or if the school needs to reach them for some other reason. Johnson said it is critical that parents return the emergency contact form even if they don't want to receive text messages.

Jeff Charbonnet, principal of Eastside High School, said texting has become the primary way of communication and the purpose of the emergency texting system is to get the word out to the parents to ease their anxiety and to share information quickly.

"It will give parents peace of mind," said Charbonnet.

During the first year, Johnson said text messages will be limited to emergencies only, so that when parents get a text from their school or the district, they will know that it's an important message that needs their immediate attention.

"This was the natural next step," Johnson said. "We recognize for a lot of parents texting is the way they get information."

Johnson pointed out that some parents could experience additional charges for texting from their wireless phone provider.

However, the same information will be conveyed by the traditional email and phone call system that has been in place in the school district.

"Unlike telephone and email communications, which schools and the district will continue to use for both emergency and non-emergency messages, the texting will only be used for emergencies," Johnson said.

For more information, call 352-955-7545.

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