The College Station school district is launching a notification system for parents to be alerted via text message when an emergency arises.
The service is scheduled to launch Feb. 11. Until then, parents are able to opt in to the service by texting "yes" to the short-code phone number 68453. To opt in, a parent's cellphone number must be in the school's student database, so text messages will only be sent to parents and guardians, said Chuck Glenewinkel, a spokesperson for the district.
"So many people rely on their cellphones now," Glenewinkel said. "Parents want information in a timely manner, especially when it is an emergency situation. Using text messaging will give us yet another tool to use to keep parents informed during urgent situations."
The school district's text messaging service is being provided by SchoolMessenger, which the district has used to communicate with parents via email and phone calls for the past few years.
The district has the ability to contact all parents and guardians through the student database with a phone call or an email in roughly 10 to 15 minutes, Glenewinkel said. The district already communicates through social media, the district website and through local media outlets, so the text messaging service will be in addition to those.
The district sends out recorded phone calls or emails for day-to-day announcements, or teachers send out emails to parents. These lines of communication will not slow down, Glenewinkel said, and the district will only use the text messaging feature for urgent situations.
"Hopefully we never have to use it, but if we do, hopefully those parents have opted in," he said. "The only difference is in emergency situations give us a more immediate way to contact more people in a short amount of time."
The system is similar to Texas A&M's Code Maroon Emergency Notification System, which sends out official alerts through text message, email, radio, campus cable television, Twitter and RSS. College Station's will only allow parents and guardians to sign up, though.