If you have school age children in the Anne Arundel County Public School system, you are no stranger to the voice that calls at 5:30 a.m. to tell you that school is delayed or closed.
This is the county's Connect-Ed automated telephone notification system .
Is it helpful, or a nuisance? The system, in itself, is very useful for delivering messages. On the other hand, many complain that they don’t like being woken up that early to be told you don’t have to get up for a few more hours.
So how does it work?
Bob Mosier, public information officer for Anne Arundel County Schools, gave me some background information on this service.
There are two types of messages:
1. Community outreach messages. These include school closings in the morning and general information messages that come from the Board of Education and your child’s school. Generally, these go to two phone numbers and an e-mail with the assumption that at the time of the call, most people would be home.
2. Emergency notification messages. These include news about an early dismissal from school or a problem that parents need to be alerted of. All numbers (up to 6) that are provided on the student’s emergency card are notified. The idea is that parents can be reached wherever they are in regards to important school closings.
There are obvious benefits to this service. These messages send out useful reminders about school events, reminders of important dates, and has proven to be very effective in reaching parents to alert of a student absence—all while reducing the amount of paperwork it would take to accomplish the same goal.
With this system, individual schools can send a message home, or a message can target a cluster of schools, such to alert of a crime in the area or an important public announcement that may affect perhaps six schools in a 15 mile radius.
Currently, the Board is in talks with the contractor of this software to work on some areas of improvement. One being, they are trying to find a way to offer notification options such as e-mail alerts only or one primary number for all notifications.
This would eliminate the 5:30 am phone calls, should you prefer an e-mail only. Obviously, there are drawbacks to this as well if you miss a notification because you don’t have your cell phone or laptop handy.
Currently, you can contact your child’s school directly and designate that your ConnectEd message go to your cell phone as your primary notification. This will allow you some snooze time if we get a snow day.