2010-01-22 / Top Stories

Notify New York City Expands To Schools

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, Office of Emergency Management (OEM) Commissioner Joseph F. Bruno and Schools Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm today announced that New York City public school families can sign up for Notify NYC updates of emergency situations at their children’s schools by phone, text message, or e-mail. Notify NYC is the City’s public notification program and has been expanded to include delayed school openings and early dismissals, student relocations, and temporary school closures related to weather or other unexpected events. Parents and guardians can choose to receive alerts for up to five zip codes, and will receive notifications about schools within those zip codes. The City expanded Notify NYC to provide parents with real-time information about events affecting their children’s schools after the passage of the Public Schools Emergency Alert Act. The Mayor, OEM Commissioner and Deputy Chancellor made the announcement at J.H.S. 217 in Queens and were joined by the sponsors of the Public Schools Emergency Alert Act, Assemblymember Rory I. Lancman, State Senator Joseph P. Addabbo, and Councilmember Mark S. Wep-rin, a former member of the Assembly.

“This expansion of Notify NYC is one more way that we’ve strengthened the lines of communication between parents and their children’s schools,” said Bloomberg. “Now, in the event of an emergency, we can communicate with families clearly, accurately, and in a timely fashion.”

“Signing up for Notify NYC is quick, easy, and best of all, it is free,” said Bruno. “I encourage all New Yorkers to join the more than 27,000 people who have signed up and taken a positive step to ensuring they have the information they need to make good decisions during emergencies.”

“The Notify NYC system makes it easy for parents to receive critical information affecting their children during the school day as it occurs,” said Grimm. “I urge parents to sign up for the service, which will help ensure that our schools are even better prepared for emergencies and can communicate easily and quickly with parents.”

“I applaud this initiative that will use available technology to improve communications between schools and parents in a quick, efficient and modern way,” said Queens Borough President Helen M. Marshall. “As a parent, I can appreciate a parent’s anxiety about not knowing where their child is during an emergency, inclement weather or other adverse circumstance. I would appreciate knowing when an emergency occurs and what is being done to alleviate fears and concerns about students.”

“Emergency alert systems work,” said Lancman. “Parents, teachers and staff need to know about school emergencies in real time, so they can protect our children and themselves. I’m proud to stand with the mayor as New York City implements the landmark Public Schools Emergency Alert Act passed by the legislature last session.”

“Recalling last year’s swine flu outbreak at a Queens high school that could have become a Citywide epidemic, the Legislature’s newly enacted Schools Emergency Alert System sends out fast notices by phone, email or text to parents, faculty, students, community residents, when a threat to health or life arises, at minimal cost to a large organization, but with huge returns for safety,” said Addabbo. “These alerts also piggyback onto the existing Notify NYC Emergency Alert System.”

“When there is an emergency at a school, parents need to know what is going on right away,” said Weprin. “As a sponsor of the Public Schools Emergency Alert Act, I know that it will make tense situations a little easier for families.”

“Emergency alerts sent to parents and guardians will help keep them informed of any possible emergencies at their students’ schools,” said Assemblymember Catherine Nolan, chair of the Assembly Education Committee. “As a parent of a public school student, I feel this system is extremely helpful and it will help keep parents and guardians informed.”

Since the launch of zip code-specific school alerts on January 1, the system has already been used to alert parents of three temporary school relocations. Students at a Staten Island school and a Bronx school were relocated because of heating problems, and students at another Bronx school were relocated as a result of a gas leak. To register for alerts, families can visit www.nyc.gov or call 311.

Notify NYC was launched as a pilot program in December 2007 serving four communities. Data from the citywide pilot were used to gauge the efficiency and effectiveness of different types of notification technologies, and the value of different types of emergency and non-emergency information to participants.

After the successful conclusion of the pilot, Notify NYC was launched Citywide in May 2009, allowing residents in all five boroughs to register multiple email addresses, text message accounts and phone numbers to receive Notify NYC advisories about events in up to five zip codes.

The program was also expanded to allow people to register for non-emergency notifications such as unscheduled suspensions of alternate side parking rules.

Since the program began, the City has sent out 243 messages related to 184 incidents across all five boroughs. To date, more than 27,000 people had enrolled to receive notifications, including almost 8,000 parents and guardians who signed up to receive schoolrelated alerts.

Alerts sent through Notify NYC are also posted at www. nyc.gov and on Twitter and distributed to call takers at 311 and 911 to ensure that information the City provides is accurate, timely and consistent.

Notify NYC is the product of a multiyear initiative to enhance the City’s emergency public communication systems, an effort that is overseen by Deputy Mayor for Operations Edward Skyler.

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