Behind the Scenes of DPS Communications
When an emergency occurs at our schools, the first circulated messages often come from non-official sources; for example, a student texts a parent about an emergency. The parent posts the text on Facebook, and then other parents share the post, etc.
So why does it take longer for the school district to send out an official message? Here's what is going on at the District Office during an emergency.
1. Gathering facts: When an emergency happens, the school(s) and the district strive to communicate factual information to the public as quickly as possible. But, as no two situations are alike, oftentimes, there are details we need to verify. This can involve talking to multiple parties (such as the police or fire department, or families directly involved with the emergency) and this information-gathering phase takes time. Please know we’re working hard to get an accurate account of the situation.
2. Limited on what we can share: Depending on the situation, we are limited on the details we can share. This could be due to privacy laws or due to an active law enforcement investigation. Our intention is not to seem vague when we say, “We are unable to share specifics regarding XYZ.” Please know that we strive toward proactive communication while balancing the privacy of others.
3. Getting the message out: Once we have the message ready to send, we activate various communication channels. The most used channels are email and text.
- Email: This is an efficient way to share information; the system takes about five to ten minutes to send out the email message.
- Text: This is the quickest way to send out messages and takes about five minutes to implement. We are limited to character counts when sending texts, so often the text is an abbreviated version of the email.
- Phone: This is the least efficient mode of communication because it takes time for the system to call the thousands of numbers in our database.
- Website: We post timely messages on the district’s homepage.
- Social Media: We post timely messages to the district’s Facebook page.
What should you do during an emergency situation?
1. Follow the instructions given in our message. This might include an alternate pick-up location for your student, or a change to the schools’ dismissal times.
2. Help keep the schools’ phone lines open by not calling in and asking for additional information. We will send updates through the above channels.
3. To help cut down on misinformation in the community, share the district’s message with local friends and neighbors who aren’t in the district’s communications database (those who don’t have students enrolled in the district).
Lastly, please make sure your contact information is always up to date in PowerSchool. Your email address and phone number listed in PowerSchool are the ones we use when sending out our messages.
Thank you for doing your part to keep the communication lines open and for sharing accurate and factual messages to those around you.