September is National Preparedness Month, and we’re marking the occasion at Blackboard Connect with a series of reflections on the ways that our clients are using mass notification to keep their communities safe and prepared.

So far this year, we have seen  earthquakes, blackouts, hurricanes and tropical storms, demonstrating the importance of preparedness, especially for K-12 schools and districts.

During last spring’s spate of severe storms in the Southeast, a tornado touched down in Greene County, located in eastern North Carolina, destroying the district’s middle school building. Thankfully, school was not in session, so children were not in danger, but Greene County officials faced an immediate challenge: ensuring educational continuity. School officials used AlertNow, a service of Blackboard Connect, to inform students and parents that classes would be relocated to the high school building. After the school year ended, officials continued to send updates to the school community, detailing progress of the construction of a new middle school building. Upon the start of the new school year, Greene County Schools sent messages via AlertNow to update students on the modified school schedule as classes were moved to a temporary modular campus.

Although many experienced severe storms and flooding, Hurricane Irene took less of a toll on the East Coast than originally predicted. Six years ago, however, when Hurricane Katrina developed and moved into the Gulf Coast, the City of New Orleans was not nearly as fortunate. In the wake of Hurricane Katrina, St. Charles Parish Public School District relied on Blackboard Connect to quickly communicate school closures and safety measures with thousands of parents and community members. As communications broke down region-wide, the St. Charles district became one of the few available sources of factual information and a “catalyst for normalcy,” not just for the district, but for the city at large.

Often, when considering preparedness measures, the first thought generally falls to ensuring emergency response and subsequent relief and recovery efforts. In this age of increased connectivity, however, having a method for communicating your plan of action is equally as important.  To learn more about how Blackboard Connect can help your K-12 district communicate during severe weather, listen to our recent recorded webinar: Preparing for Inclement Weather and Maintaining Communication Throughout the Storm. And stay tuned to this blog as we continue to observe National Preparedness Month.

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