When an emergency occurs at our schools, often the messages that are first circulated come from non-official sources. For example, a student texts a parent about an emergency and then the parent posts the text on Facebook, and the post is then shared by other parents, etc. So, why does it take longer for the school district to send out an official message? Here’s what is going on in the B-P communications office during an emergency:
- Gathering facts: When an emergency happens, the district strives to communicate factual information to the public as quickly as possible. But, as no two situations are alike, often there are details we need to verify. This can involve talking to multiple parties (such as the police or fire department, or families directly involved with the emergency) and this information-gathering phase takes time. Please know we’re working hard to get an accurate account of the situation.
- Limited on what we can share: Depending on the situation, there are times we are limited on the details we can share. This could be because of privacy laws or an active law enforcement investigation. It is not our intention to seem vague when we say, “We are unable to share specifics regarding XYZ.” Please know that we strive toward proactive communication while balancing the privacy of others.
- Getting the message out: Once we have the message ready to send, we activate various communication channels. The most used channels are email, text and the district website.
- Email: If you regularly receive non-emergency emails from B-P, that means we have an up-to-date email address for you. If you have not received an email from the district (usually from Michele Kelley) in the past two weeks, please contact Michele at email@example.com to provide us with a current email address. If we do not have a current email address for you, you will not receive information via email in an emergency.
- Text: We are limited to character counts when sending texts, so often the text is an abbreviated version of the email. We generally only send text messages in situations when we need your attention immediately — such as emergencies or weather-related school closings or delays. Please check your Patriot Portal account to make sure we have an up-to-date mobile phone number for you. If you are a parent or student and need your login ID or password for the Patriot Portal, please contact Michele Kelley at firstname.lastname@example.org. Non-parent residents can create a Patriot Portal account to receive notifications. If we do not have a current mobile phone number for you, you will not receive information via text in an emergency.
- Website: We post timely messages about emergency situations on the district’s homepage.
- Phone: We rarely activate our automatic phone system, but will do so when we want to try to make sure everyone in the community we are trying to reach gets our message. Our automatic phone system will call all of the numbers we have on file for you in order, except for your work number. Please check your Patriot Portal account to make sure we have up-to-date phone numbers for you. If you are a parent or student and need your login ID or password for the Patriot Portal, please contact Michele Kelley at email@example.com. Non-parent residents can create a Patriot Portal account to receive notifications. If we do not have a current phone number for you, you will not receive a phone call in an emergency.
- Note, we generally do not post information about emergencies to our district social media accounts. The algorithms of the various social media platforms make it impossible for us to know when or even if members of our community might see these posts. Therefore, in an emergency, we rely on the more immediate and direct methods of communication outlined above.
What should you do during an emergency situation?
- Follow the instructions given in our message. This might include an alternate pick-up location for your child or a change to the schools’ dismissal times.
- Help keep the schools’ phone lines open by not calling in and asking for additional information. Feel free to reply to the email you receive and we will try to respond to you as quickly as possible. We will also send updates through the above channels.
- To help cut down on misinformation in the community, share the district’s message with local friends and neighbors who might not have received it — especially those without children attending B-P schools.
Lastly, please make sure your contact information is always up to date in the Patriot Portal. Your email address and phone number(s) listed in your Patriot Portal account are the ones we use when sending out our messages.
Thank you for doing your part to keep the communication lines open and for sharing accurate and factual messages with those around you.