Swine Flu Outbreak Increases Schools' Use of Speech

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Swine Flu Outbreak Increases                                                                 minutes. Users can record messages in
                                                                                             their own voices using a toll-free
                                                                                             phone number, or upload a text mes-

Schools’ Use of Speech                                                                       sage that can be converted to an audio
                                                                                             file. They then select the recipients by
                                                                                             name, group, or geographic area and
In the early days of the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic, many U.S.
                                                                                             specify whether they want the mes-
school officials used voice broadcast and mass message delivery                              sages to be sent immediately or at a
technology to proactively reach parents with important updates later date and time.
                                                                                                For its part, Blackboard Connect cre-
and information. Between April 27 and May 4, roughly 1,300                                   ated sample scripts for clients to use as
     school districts used Sherman Oaks,        parents who wanted to know if schools        a reference to make sure they were get-
     Calif.-based Blackboard Connect to         were closed, and most importantly, if        ting all the necessary information out to
     send 9.79 million messages to parents,     their children would be safe. From my        the public, according to Karl Engkvist,
     staff, and residents with updates on       office phone, we were able to record and     the company’s executive vice president.
     potential cases and precautionary          send an assuring message, in English            “Especially in the younger grades, it
     measures to help control the spread of     and Spanish, to parents, students, and       is so important to hear assurances,
     the virus.                                 staff. The incoming calls quickly sub-       and hearing them from someone in au-
        Many other schools and districts        sided, and we were able to focus on          thority really helped alleviate a lot of
     used the SchoolReach Instant Parent        keeping our students safe.”                  the fears and anxiety that parents
     Contact system from GroupCast to an-          The West Oso Independent School           were feeling,” Engkvist says.
     nounce their closures and other swine      District in Corpus Christi, Texas, was          Activity among Blackboard Connect
     flu-related information.                   one of SchoolReach’s customers that          users was “really intense” during the
        One of the first school districts to    closed due to an H1N1 case. One Fri-         first week of the outbreak, but it con-
     use Blackboard Connect for that pur-   
				
DOCUMENT INFO
Description: In the early days of the swine flu (H1N1) epidemic, many US school officials used voice broadcast and mass message delivery technology to proactively reach parents with important updates and information. Between April 27 and May 4, roughly 1,300 school districts used Sherman Oaks, CA-based Blackboard Connect to send 9.79 million messages to parents, staff, and residents with updates on potential cases and precautionary measures to help control the spread of the virus. And, should the virus make a resurgence in the fall when the colder weather returns, as some experts anticipate, administrators can rest assured that a quick, reliable communications system is in place if the need arises again, Paul Langhorst, VP of operations at GroupCast, said in a statement.
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