The Iowa Department of Administrative Services (DAS) has launched a free system to immediately notify parents via e-mail if their child’s school is canceling classes due to bad weather. Darrell Fremont helped develop the system, and says it came at the request of some school superintendents.
Fremont says a lot of district had a lot of different media contacts, and they took some time. He says they were looking for a way to get the notification out in a quicker manner. Fremont says they tested the system and are ready to use it statewide. Fremont says they did a pilot program with a few districts last year and got great feedback, so they have expanded it statewide. He says 25 districts have joined in the last week and a half.
Fremont says they have the capacity to serve all the school districts in the state, but says some already have internal e-mail systems they use. While the state universities are installing campus-wide notification systems in the wake of campus shootings, Fremont say this system wasn’t developed as a result of such a tragedy.
But he says they do have the capability to issue non-weather related notifications, such as when there’s a boiler out in a building. He says the district will be able to make building-specific notifications, or send them district wide. Fremont says the system is not for general communication. He says the thought is the system would be used for emergency closings and not to issue announcements about conferences and those type of things.
Fremont says you can register for the notifications at http://schoolalerts.iowa.gov/ . Fremont says you will be taken through a process that creates a user name and I.D. and that idea will be used for other state web-based transactions.
Fremont says the system gives you a lot of flexibility for getting announcements. He says you can put in multiple e-mail addresses, your cellphone e-mail address, or you can put in your cellphone number and an e-mail or text message will be sent to your phone. Fremont says the notification system is part of the state effort to provide more access to government electronically.