Bringing clarity to a crisis: How schools talk to parents during emergencies
During a time of crisis, imagine not knowing if your child is safe. How do our schools communicate with families during an emergency?Photo: Video by kgun9.com
CREATED Dec. 14, 2012
Reporter: Kevin Keen
TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - During a crisis like the school shooting in Connecticut, imagine not knowing what's happening at your child's school and if your child is safe. ABC News reported parents felt that way in the first hours after the massacre. 9 On Your Side wanted to know: How would schools in Southern Arizona help bring some clarity and communication during this kind of chaos and confusion?
“When things like this happen and when I begin to think about it as a parent, my concern immediately goes to my own two kids,” John Carruth told 9 On Your Side.
Carruth is a father and an assistant superintendent at Vail School District.
“My heart goes out for the families in Connecticut and that community,” he said.
Carruth said districts like his try to prepare for emergencies with regular disaster drills and practice lockdowns, among many other things.
“What our challenge is in emerging situations where things are rapidly changing is getting accurate information out quickly to parents about what is happening,” he explained.
To help cut through the confusion and fear -- emotions felt by parents in Connecticut -- Vail district staff can quickly record an emergency audio message and send it by phone and email to its parents.
“It will continue to call or continue to send an email until somebody on the other end has listened to that message,” Carruth added.
Carruth explained the biggest challenge is clearing up misinformation: “As we're trying to get information out, you've got students, you're got parents, you've got other faculty member also communicating at the same time.”
“I think it's critical for all of us to remember and it's critical that I, as a parent, remember and that we send the message that schools are safe places to be,” Carruth said. “That's what the research and statistics tell us. Out of all the environments, when a child is in a school, that is their most safe place that they can possibly be.”
Vail School District also posts emergency notices on Facebook and its website. Many other districts in Southern Arizona, including TUSD, also have mass email and phone call systems for emergencies.