Notification system to help tame rumors

baldwin county public schools

A rumor about a shooting Wednesday at Daphne High School was just that; a rumor. With social media and instant communication rumors like that can quickly spread and cause concern, but this one was snuffed out before a panic.

RUMOR ICED

“This is Dr. Foster, Daphne High School – I want to get out in front of the rumor mill and quash a rumor that seems to be going around – a student made a comment yesterday that caused another student alarm related to a firearm, we’ve thoroughly researched and investigated this idle comment and we are in the process of discipling the student. There was no danger yesterday. There is no danger today and we always appreciate the watchful eye of our school resource officers every day. I ask that you help me quell the rumor mill. We’re having a great day at Daphne High School , it’s national signing day and we thank you for putting to rest any rumor about our school. I hope YOU have a great day.”

That’s the message Daphne High School principal, Dr. Meredith Foster, sent out to parents this morning. Students, who had seen a rumor on Facebook alerted the school and Dr. Foster put out the message before panic parents started calling in.

“The parents want to hear from an authentic and trustworthy source and find out the truth of the matter,” Dr. Foster told us.

FIGHT FIRE WITH FIRE

Social media can fire up a disruptive rumor in minutes, but the same tactics can snuff it out one out just as quickly.

Baldwin County Schools communication director, Terry Wilhite said, “When you have rumors that are vicious as they were today you have to get in front of those.”

Wilhite gave FOX10 News a behind the scenes look at the rapid response system.

“Here are 52 school websites,” Wilhite showed us on his computer. “I’d enter in a message that I would need to get out and I’d hit the send button within a matter of seconds we get good, accurate information out to the public.”

Wilhite, and every principal, can also compose one message that will be sent out as an email, a text, and a phone call with one click.

“And all of that go out in a matter of minutes,” Wilhite said. “It’s an amazing communication system.”

If there is a weak link in the system it might be you. If you’ve changed your phone number during the school year you need to let the system know so they have the right number on the list.

The rapid response system worked today, putting out a fire before it could spread.

“We had signing day today and a lot of things to look forward to and I haven’t heard another word about it,” Dr. Foster told us.

LOCK DOWNS A PRECAUTION

Wilhite also wanted to stress to parents that lock downs are often a precaution in situations like this and are done with the students safety in mind.

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