Text me?

Blount County Schools adopt new system to notify parents via cell phones

As soon as snowflakes falls in Blount County, phones at Central Office, radio and television stations and newspaper start ringing. School or no school?

The answer to that question, and others that need to be communicated to Blount County Schools parent population, will now just be a text message away.

The Blount County School System has adopted Edutext as a new way of communicating with parents of students.

Rob Britt, director of Blount County Schools, said the new text message communication system has been adopted to help parents stay better connected to their child’s school through text messaging.

“We are very excited about this program and encourage your participation to start receiving school information directly to your phone,” Britt said in a press release.

Edutext is a local company that is offering the text messaging system. This system is being sponsored by local businesses, making it a cost-free program for the school system.

School system officials said they are hoping this will be a great new method of communication to keep parents and other interested parties informed of county-wide school notices in an extremely timely manner. The types of messages that will be sent may include: school closing notices, weather related school closings and early dismissals, grade card distributions, notices of holidays, etc.

The Blount County Board of Education’s county-wide text messaging system will be implemented first, and then will be followed by each individual Blount County school. Once implemented, this system will send messages to every parents’ phone - approximately 20,000 phones -- within minutes, making it the fastest way to notify parents wherever they are. The types of messages sent from the individual schools are tailored precisely for that school and would include: notices of parent-teacher conferences, Open Houses, picture day, sport schedules, field trip notices, report cards, bus delays etc.

The partnership with area businesses means that the sponsor’s message is sent along with the school’s message. Each message from a sponsor is preapproved by the school board and is designed to be of value for parents.

School officials said this makes it a win-win-win for everyone: The parents get timely updates from their child’s school, the school board has a state-of-the art communication tool at no cost, and local businesses can get their messages to parents who appreciate them.

The Edutext program will enable the school system to send messages directly to parents on their cell phones once the parents “opt-in” to the text messaging program. School officials say that the system is completely secure and phone numbers will never been seen by anyone. Only official messages will be sent out directly from the school system.

To sign up for the Blount County Edutext program for your child’s school, follow the instructions:

1. As a parent, or other interested party, using your cell phone send the text message “edutext bcs” to the number 368674. You will then be instructed on how to “opt-in” to the system. You must have a text messaging package on your cell phone to participate and using the system will count as a message received within your cell phone plan once you havesigned up.

2. If you wish to unsubscribe, simply reply “stop” to any message.

If you have any questions about the school systems text messaging system call Edutext at 1-800-705-1910 or email them at 2edutext@gmail.com.

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