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How an emergency notification system can help schools communicate more effectively after a disaster?

The value of implementing an emergency notification solution is the ability of an organization to react to a threat or event swiftly and efficiently, reducing risk of delays.  This can only be achieved when an organization has set in place the tools necessary to communicate time-sensitive information to students, parents, staff and emergency responders bringing closure to any emergency situation.

Communication is critical in the aftermath of a natural or manmade disaster, the ability to effectively communicate is key in minimizing the impact on students, staff and site activities; and resolve incidents more quickly. Here are just a few ways to enhance communication in schools to reduce the likelihood of emergencies and critical incidents.

·       Analyze and revise your schools Emergency Response Plan every year.

·       Collect and update current emergency contact information for your school community, avoid unnecessary setbacks in recovery efforts.

·       Request multiple contact information including cell, landline numbers, email addresses and social media.

·       Integrate more Social Media channels for alerts involving the public.

·       Schedule prewritten messages to be sent to the school community at regular intervals throughout the year.

·       Test the emergency response and evacuation procedures on at least an annual basis, including announced or unannounced tests.

·       Message Sender supports you to establish and maintain an ongoing Emergency command center to oversee disaster risk reduction and preparedness.
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5 tips you should know about safety in your child’s school

What does your schools emergency preparedness plan include?

Every school should have an emergency preparedness plan in place and should include; preparing for drills, evacuations, sheltering and lock down procedures, handling multi-hazard emergencies, having an incident command system and crisis team in place.  Parents need to ask critical questions concerning their schools relationship with first responders and community organizations and protocols of communicating effectively with parents and the media during a crisis.  Student involvement in emergency planning should also be addressed.

Does the staff know their roles in an emergency situation? And are they trained on the plan?

Have school employees received training on security and emergency planning by local, state and or national specialists? Have employees also received training on their school or district specific crisis guidelines?  School staff should know their roles during emergency situations.  Like any team, a school staff should practice locating safe exits, evacuation routes and understanding their individual roles. Schools should plan regular drills to familiarize staff members with emergency procedures and to judge the effectiveness of the plan.  Ask about the number and types of training and drills at your school. Most school safety experts advise campuses to practice such drills at least once a year.

Has the school partnered with its local law enforcement agency to practice emergency response procedures?

Although many schools have crisis response plans, most have not taken time to directly work with their local law enforcement agencies to structure plans and practice drills. Real-time practice scenarios are fundamental to a comprehensive school safety plan. The Federal Emergency Management Agency recommends these plan be reviewed and updated on an annual basis.

How will I be notified?

Your school should have in place a well-defined process to notify parents in the case of an incident in or at the school. Should something happen at your child’s school, misinformation will run wild. The Texas School Safety Center notes that it is incumbent on the school to provide parent’s accurate, timely information during any school based emergency. Ask what the communication process from your school will be.

As a parent, how can I be involved in helping my child’s school prepare for emergencies?

Student safety will be the highest priority for school staff and first responders in any school emergency. The school will have expectations of you, communication with your school is the key. Most schools are eager to help parents understand their emergency procedures. The first steps to getting involved in your schools safety plans is to be informed about existing security plans and procedures. 

Efficient emergency preparedness plans are frequently reviewed to identify areas of improvement.  Find ways to open communication effectively with school staff, fellow parents and community members in school meetings to best address school safety procedures. Simply ask the questions.  Encourage your child’s school to publish the emergency plan in student handbooks, school websites and distribute to the students with regular school notifications and publications.
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U.S. Departments of Education and Justice Release School Discipline Guidance Package to boost School Conditions and enhance School Disciplinary Practices

The U.S. Department of Justice and Education released a school discipline guidance package to guide states, districts, and schools improve school climate and reinforce discipline policies and practices. The U.S. Department of Education, in association with the U.S. Department of Justice will help in the initiative addressing overuse of harsh and restrictive school disciplinary policies and practices and supports the advancement of safe and effective education environments and training. Efforts are coordinated to keep children and teens in school, engaged in learning, out of streets and trouble.  The guidance package provides resources for creating safe, supportive, and inclusive school climates and a compendium of federal laws and regulations regarding school discipline.

"Effective teaching and learning cannot take place unless students feel safe at school, "U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan said. “Positive discipline policies can help create safer learning environments without relying heavily on suspensions and expulsions. Schools also must understand their civil rights obligations and avoid unfair disciplinary practices. We need to keep students in class where they can learn. These resources are a step in the right direction.”

The resource package consists of four components:

·         The Dear Colleague  a guidance letter on civil rights and discipline, prepared in association with DOJ, defines how schools can meet legal obligations under federal law to govern student discipline without discriminating against students on the basis of race, color or national origin;

·         The Guiding Principles document originates from emerging research and best practices to describe three key principles and related action steps that can help model state and local efforts to enhance school climate and school discipline;

·         The Directory of Federal School Climate and Discipline Resources indicates the extensive federal technical assistance and other resources relevant to school discipline and climate available to schools and districts;

·         The Compendium of School Discipline Laws and Regulations is an online directory of the laws and regulations pertinent to school discipline in each of the 50 states, the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico, compares laws across states and jurisdictions.

While incidents of school violence increase, too many schools are struggling to create positive, safe environments. The guidance package provides resources for creating such climates, which are essential for boosting student academic success and closing achievement gaps.
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  • “We use Message Sender to frequently send out notices to our 300+ students and faculty.  Using Message Sender has allowed us to become more efficient in communicating time sensitive information quickly and effectively without involving multiple staff members to physically make all the calls themselves.  A very cost effective solution with no limitations”

    -Jamie F. Brown, Computer Career Center, Nevada
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  • "I can’t  believe how easy the whole process was.  We were up and going within 24hrs.  We use Message Sender for Emergency Communication and day to day operations.  They are very cost effective and have improved communication in our school drastically."  
    Dr. Frank Roderick, Crimson Nursing Academy, Alabama
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