Schools use technology to communicate during severe weather - News, Weather and Classifieds for Southern New England

Schools use technology to communicate during severe weather

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PROVIDENCE -

Notifying parents of when schools dismiss students early or close is not such an easy task, but technology is making it a bit easier.

In the state's largest school district, Providence, where more than 20,000 children come and go every day, keeping them safe while balancing educational time is a priority during winter conditions like these.

"Our communications systems amongst city departments are pretty well refined," said Providence school spokeswoman Christina O'Reilly.

As of 1:30 p.m. Tuesday, there was no early dismissal of students in Providence public schools.

"We tend to try to avoid early dismissals," O'Reilly said.

Early dismissals can create a transportation nightmare for both schools and parents.

But if there is an early dismissal or a school closure, the district uses several communication methods to get out the word.

"We have an automated phone system. We use our social media. We have Facebook and Twitter pages. We put it on our web page," O'Reilly said.

Closings and cancellations also are posted on turnto10.com and spread by word of mouth. Some districts use automatic text messaging as well, but that's not an automatic option yet in Providence.

"We actually haven't launched our texts yet. We're experimenting whether parents would welcome texts. We don't want to incur costs on anybody unnecessarily," O'Reilly said.

If your school district doesn't use an automatic text system, you can sign up through the Rhode Island Broadcasters Association.

Right behind Providence is the Cranston Public School District with about 10,000 students.

That city also tries to avoid early dismissals. But if that has to happen, high school students are dismissed first, partly because they start their days earlier, and work down to the elementary schools.

Superintendent Judith Lundsten works closely with the city Department of Public Works as to when the amount of accumulation is locked in.

"She tries to make that decision sooner than later because the more notice we gives parents, the more able they are to arrange for day care if they have to go to work," Cranston schools Chief Operating Officer Ray Votto said.

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