Technology comes in handy for school district as landline outage strikes entire county

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ANDERSON COUNTY, Tenn. (WATE) – When Norwood Elementary School Principal, Karri Hobby, learned about the mass landline phone outage, she began notifying families.

Hobby said the phone is usually always ringing in the front office with calls from parents about things including ride changes or an absence from school due to illness.

The phone lines are repaired.

Ultimately, not being able to take calls from parents is inconvenient, but with the variety of technology available in 2019, it didn’t disrupt learning Monday.

“As a principal, I always want to be in the classroom with kids instead of in the front office, working on things like this. but, it’s just part of the job,” she said.

The school uses the remind app, which allows Hobby to communicate to parents, and them to communicate with the school. She even shared her cell on the app, so parents could reach out to her directly to make arrangements for their child.

Their school nurse has a two-way radio and district-issued cell phone to contact parents or other staff around the school, Hobby said.

The outage impacted the parents of 260 NES students, but Anderson County Schools’ Communications and Public Relations Coordinator, Ryan Sutton, said there are 6,200 total students in the district.

Sutton said district leaders never considered shutting down schools because of the outage.

He said the district also uses a program called Blackboard Communicate, which allows them to communicate with every parent in the district through text, email, or call.

“With one click, I can call all parents, all staff members, all phone numbers that we have in our database and alert them immediately,” he said.

When Sutton learned the outage impacted the entire school district, he posted to the school’s website and social media accounts alerting parents, providing them alternate forms of communicating with their child’s school.

Sutton also said their is a school resource officer on the grounds of every school, every day, in Anderson County.

She’s been NES’ principal for nine years. In that time, she’s seen a lot of new faces and a lot of new technology.

“A phone outage nine years ago would have been much more difficult to communicate with parents so quickly.”

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