Notification system installed at schools 

When a bathroom at Adelante School caught fire last month, students throughout the school were evacuated while an automated system called their parents to tell them what to do.

It was one of the first tests of the Redwood City School District’s new parental-notification system, Connect-ED, which officially launched Tuesday. The system is used in other local schools, including ones in Hillsborough and Burlingame, to send parents word about everything from student absences to disasters, district spokeswoman Naomi Hunter said.

Connect-ED, created by the NTI Group Inc., was used during last month’s Southern California wildfires to send evacuation instructions to some 3 million parents, said Jan Christensen, Redwood City School District superintendent.

But officials are still working out the kinks — because it can be used for so many things, "we want to be careful we don’t overuse it," she added.

Parents such as Adam Borison appreciate the technology. With two kids in the district, it can be difficult to hook up in an emergency, he said.

"Modern technology lets you stay in touch," Borison said.

Parents don’t need to do anything to sign up; the district is already using phone numbers from student records. However, if they’d prefer getting calls at a different telephone number, they can call the district office.

Connect-ED uses Internet-based software that allows school administrators to schedule, send and track messages to staff and parents quickly. Messages can be recorded and sent in English and Spanish.

bwinegarner@examiner.com

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