If you have a child in school, you’ll want to make sure that you can be reached in an emergency situation. Smartphones and cell phones have made this easier, but there can still be some challenges. Often, the method depends on the situation, but in the end if you are a parent with a child and something happens, whether they are ill or hurt, or there is a natural disaster or dangerous event, you’ll want to be accessible so that the school can contact you immediately.
Hopefully you will never feel the heart stopping terror of knowing your child is experiencing a dangerous situation – like a school shooting. If the school is on lockdown, the parents won’t be able to even get near the school. How do schools reach out to parents in this type of situation? As the events unfold the school may use the media to broadcast messages informing parents of the event and how to proceed. They may also use a mass call system to give the parents specific information such as where they can gather, the status of the situation, and other particulars that the general public may not need to know.
When there is a natural disaster such as a tornado, fire, or flood, the communication methods may also include a mass call or text. Administrators are likely to use the media to broadcast information as well. While they may use the automated system to make calls, they likely will not answer calls at the school and if they do they will probably be inundated. Often, agencies like the Red Cross will step in and publish a number that parents can call to find out about their children.
When a child is injured or becomes ill, the school will try to call the parents so that they can take the child home. This is necessary for several reasons. One, if the child has an illness that is contagious, sending him or her home can decrease the possibility of more children getting sick. Second, a sick child is disruptive in school. They can’t pay attention and may have difficulty learning. The third reason is the most important, though. A sick child needs care and attention and the parent or caregiver is the best one to give it to them. The parent can assess the child’s condition and determine if a trip to the doctor is necessary. Most of all, though, a child just wants to be home in their own bed around familiar things with mom or dad taking care of them. In most cases, home is the best place to get better.
The common theme here is that the various government agencies, as well as the school, use the phone to contact parents when there is an emergency. If they try the landline home phone first and do not get an answer they may move on to the next listed number (which may be a cell number) – but that does not always happen. Worse yet, if they call the landline and the answering machine picks up, the parent may not even know of the situation until much later. Unless you sit at home all day landlines aren’t practical, especially if you have a child.
A VoIP phone service is a great alternative to the traditional land line. Services like magicJack offer free VoIP call forwarding so that a call to your landline rings to your smartphone. You will never miss an important call again. This type of service gives you the peace of mind of knowing that you won’t miss a call and you will always be accessible if your child needs you.
Have you ever had an event at your child’s school where the school tried to contact you? Have you ever had the school contact you because your child was ill or injured? What method or methods did they use? How long did it take for them to actually reach you? Share your experiences in the comments below.