SCOTTS VALLEY, CA, June 21, 2017 — With so many different communications tools being used by teachers, schools and districts, one of the biggest obstacles to parent engagement is the lack of a unified “inbox.” To help schools address this challenge, West Corporation today unveiled the SchoolMessenger app. This new mobile and web application in the SchoolMessenger solutions family – available for free as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices later this week and as a browser-based application – brings together rich teacher and classroom messaging technology with school- and district-level notifications, putting a complete app for school communications at parents’ fingertips.
With the SchoolMessenger app, parents can engage in two-way conversations with teachers and with school groups, such as for classes and sports teams. In addition to messages, parents are able to use the app to exchange files, images and videos with teachers. Parents can easily view all SchoolMessenger Communicate notifications related to their children’s schools and district, plus other messages, in one scrollable “stream view,” just as they would on any other popular messaging or social media app.
Teachers will have the ability to use the app to easily send home class assignments, permission slips and other files. Using one-to-one messaging, teachers and parents can securely discuss individual students. And through group chats, teachers may launch discussions on everything from classroom events to what students are learning about that week.
“We recently conducted a national survey exploring how districts are currently using communications technology for parent engagement that revealed districts plan a 44 percent increase in the emphasis they put on mobile apps in the next one-to-three years. Yet, they also expressed concern about the proliferation of communications apps that parents have to download,” said Robert Iskander, executive vice president and general manager of West’s Education group. “We developed the SchoolMessenger app to meet this need. It allows schools to take full advantage of the power of mobile for home-school communication in a more complete app.”
Two advanced, optional add-on modules for the SchoolMessenger app make life even easier for parents and school administrators.
When schools and districts add the SafeArrival module they are providing parents with two powerful ways to communicate about a child’s attendance: notify the school in advance about an upcoming absence, or rapidly respond with the reason for an absence after attendance is taken. In addition, SafeArrival streamlines the school process of following up on student absences, eliminating manual tasks like calling parents, which allows school staff to focus rapidly on true unexcused absences and help ensure that students are safe.
Ted Farrell, superintendent of education for the Niagara Catholic District School Board in Ontario, Canada, said, “We turned to SafeArrival for a convenient way for parents to report absences and, in the process, created more time for school secretaries who were spending up to three-quarters of their day making calls to home. Now we are reporting more promptly and have improved our parent communication.”
The SchoolMessenger app’s Plus module offers parents the ability to view detailed student data, such as grades, lunch balances and absences from within the SchoolMessenger app, as well as to receive grade threshold alerts.
The new SchoolMessenger app replaces and significantly enhances the functionality of the previous InfoCenter app. School staff and parents who have been using InfoCenter will receive automatic updates to the SchoolMessenger app (if automatic updates are enabled on their smartphones). Additionally, districts using SchoolMessenger CustomApp custom mobile apps will be able to take full advantage of the new SchoolMessenger app functionality. App downloads will be available from http://go.schoolmessenger.com.
The new SchoolMessenger app and the SafeArrival and Plus modules will be featured in the West booth #3026 at ISTE 2017, June 25-28, in San Antonio.
About West’s SchoolMessenger Solutions
West Corporation is the trusted provider of SchoolMessenger solutions. Thousands of schools and other educational institutions in all 50 states and Canada depend on SchoolMessenger products and services from notifications and websites to custom mobile apps and social media. School leaders have relied on the SchoolMessenger platform since 1999 to engage with their communities in multiple languages and on any device. To learn more about SchoolMessenger products, visit www.schoolmessenger.com or call 888.527.5225.