School safety alerts

Police continue to search for a UGA professor accused of killing his ex-wife and two men Saturday.

Shortly after the shooting, the university sent a text alert to students saying that a professor was a suspect in the off-campus shooting.

The UGA Alerts are used to let students know quickly when there are dangerous situations. The alerts began after the Virginia Tech kills in 2007 and are used by other colleges as well.

In the K-12 world, public and private schools post messages on their Web sites or rely on the old-fashioned phone trees to let people know about emergencies.

Should public schools learn from colleges and adopt these same text alerts?

What other kinds of messages could schools send?

14 comments Add your comment


April 27th, 2009
8:55 am

Something else to cost time and money for our already strapped budgets? Alerts to middle school students? No! Alerts to their parents? Maybe. We could let them know about school closing. However, many parents won’t answer the phone if the school is calling and they might not answer the text. We now have students who are in trouble call their parents from their cell phones.


April 27th, 2009
9:13 am

HS students must have their electronics turned off during school hours. This is necessary because otherwise, their cell phones would be vibrating or ringing throughout the lessons in class.

Because of this rule, text messages are useless in HS for students.


April 27th, 2009
9:19 am

Unlike colleges, students in K-12 are much more confined with adult supervision. I don’t see why you need a system to alert students/teachers more than the PA system in the building. There should be a system that will alert schools for any danger that might require them to lock down or whatever, but I’m sure there is already such a system.

Now, a system to warn teachers who are off campus but intend to come back to schools may be useful, but that’s about all I can think of.


April 27th, 2009
9:43 am

This could work with minimal costs. Using technology such as Twitter, it probably could be done at no cost. Those interested in messages from the school system could ‘register’ for updates such as this. As long as it is used as intended, this is another viable means of getting the word out. I should be clear, the target audience I am referring to would be the parents and community.

The technology exists to create ‘opt in’ message delivery systems. The message could be delivered by some combination of phone, email, or texting. A ‘registration’ system could be set to indicate the type of messages one could receive, i.e. PTA meetings, emergency, etc.

Reality needs a reality check

April 27th, 2009
10:08 am

Student must have phones off during school? Have you been at a high school recently? The majority of discipline problems are because of those stupid cell phones and texts. They check them in the bathrooms, before classes, after classes. If they got a text from the school, I can assure you that within five minutes, parents would be calling to check the little darlings out.


April 27th, 2009
10:43 am

Our middle school students are suppose to have their phones off and in their lockers. I have taken up several phones when they have gone off in class and several when I have walked into the girl’s bathroom. I have even had to get students to go into their lockers because their phones keep going off. What a world!


April 27th, 2009
11:23 am

Some college professors will take points off a student’s final grade if they are using a cell phone in class to text or talk, or if the cell phone rings during class time.


April 27th, 2009
2:06 pm

At some point, our schools will have to catch up with modern technologies. There has been an age-old struggle between “traditional” methods and “modern” ways, but the new ideas ultimately take over.

Educators and law enforcement have been confounded with the sexting that teens have discovered. As long as we have challenges like this, it will be difficult for us to openly allow the cell phones in our buildings. The potential for disruption is too great. Misuse of the phones during class time is also a problem.

We use a phone notification system in our schools and cell phones are included for parents who provide the numbers. E-mail programs easily send out mass messages and cell phone text messaging is a form of e-mail. The consumer has to provide the correct address to the school and they are able to receive the messages as text messages on the phones.

Mostly, for now, though, schools have no reason to adopt an emergency notification system for students because they are already contained. The public address system within the school is sufficient.


April 27th, 2009
3:30 pm

What could they say on a telephone text message that couldn’t be said on the intercom? Just askin’ . . .

So, do the kids in the middle and high school who actually get and read the text message as they try to stay awake in Algebra II going to receive a detention for having their phone on? : – )

I don’t see this as useful for the students. For the PARENTS, however, I can see that a text message or phone call would be helpful if there was an incident. For example, I’m sure that there would have been many grateful parents who would have welcomed informative texts/email messages during Columbine, etc., if the technology had been as pervasive as it is now.

College students are on and off campus at haphazard times — for them, this is an extremely useful tool. But for K-12? Nope. I have to admit, I did appreciate the email notifications from my son’s university last year, when there was a highly publicized murder of a student off-campus, and again this year, when there was a highly publicized protest. If I was waiting on my son to tell me what was going on, I’d still be waiting! On the protest, my MIL called me and asked me if my son was involved in the protest on CNN . . . my response was “Umm . . . what protest?”

High School MO

April 27th, 2009
7:46 pm

And just exactly whould a high school alert entail?

Warning, student just assaulted a teacher. Standard operating procedure in place; student sent to class with no consequences, while teacher was written up for poor classroom management.

Sorry, teachers don’t need a text alert for that; they witness it on a regular basis.


April 28th, 2009
8:27 am

The PA could be useful except for the fact you would not want to scare the younger children. It may be useful for adults to know why they are locked in a classroom for 3 hours but the students may not need to know all the details.


April 30th, 2009
2:31 pm

Several weeks ago, our school was involved in a very intense situation. How’d I find out? The news! Oh, I knew something was going on when I dropped my daughter off because of all the police cars and emergency vehicles. But, like a good parent, I asked the staff outside of the Middle School if it was safe to drop my daughter off and they reassured me it was.
It wasn’t until I was back at home, 15 minutes later, that I realized via the News, that all hell was breaking out. There were reports of multiple students with some serious high powered weaponary. And my little girl was there, without me.
All I can say is thank god for her cell phone. Being able to text her and know that she was safe and calm was the best thing that could of happened to both of us that morning. It was also the best thing that could of happened to the school. I sat on our local news channels blogs and checked for updates from kids inside the school, from parents who were texting their kids and reporting back and from teachers who were texting their families and updating us. We all stayed calm because we were in constant contact with our child, or our kids were in contact with those that didn’t have phones and therefore reassured those parents. If they had’nt broken the schools rule on cell phones, about 2500 stressed out parents would of rushed the school and created a chaotic mess.
Everyone wants to complain about how kids cheat with cell phones or their distracting or they might bully someone or take an inappropriate picture. Do any of those people remember our days in school? Passing notes without getting caught was an art form. Writting crib sheets with test answers written so small you needed a magnifing glass to read them. Sneeking a book or a magazine within the folds of your text book. Intimidating looks at your locker or the water fountain. Come on! Nothing’s changed but the way it’s done. Honest kids won’t cheat with our without a cell phone. Nice kids won’t bully with our without a cell phone. Kids who are engaged in their classes won’t look for ways to be distracted. Everyone will always pass notes.
So, as adults, if we have to find ways to outsmart our kids, yet again, then that’s what we’ll do, but it shouldn’t be at the expense of our kids safety or our sanity in this ever increasing crazy world!


May 29th, 2009
8:15 pm

I’ve read the other day about school alerts and phone parent alerts. Does every school district across the US offer this type of alert system? Is this similiar to notification alert services like It’s good to know that schools are finally updating their alert methods.


May 29th, 2009
8:17 pm

I’ve read the other day about school alerts and phone parent alerts. Does every school district across the US offer this type of alert system? Is this similiar to notification alert services like It’s good to know that schools are finally updating their alert methods.