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Intermediate school describes School-links text alert system as ‘life changing’

New to School-links attendance management text alerts, Dunedin North Intermediate describes the system as life changing. Text messaging is saving the school time, resources and providing peace of mind that their ‘mini-teenagers’ are safe.

Dunedin North Intermediate signed up for School-links in anticipation of the strain that the spread of Omicron would put on school resources. Anne McLean, Office Administrator, recalls, “With the change to the government’s approach to COVID at the start of the year and the subsequent spread of Omicron, we knew that the amount of time spent on managing attendance would increase significantly. If I had to ring up fifty sets of caregivers, that could take a few hours, giving anybody who may have snatched a child on the way to school, a couple of hours head start.”

The impact of School-links was immediate:

“I am finished with attendance by 10 o’clock meaning we quickly know all our children are safe and accounted for. Plus, it saves me at least three hours a week of admin time in a normal week, heaps more as we worked through COVID.”

Anne undertook the brief online introduction offered by School-links, “I did the training a week before school started and they said to give them a call first day back as they would talk me through what to do – but I never needed to call as it is pretty intuitive. School-links creates the ‘Early Notification Group’ from the students marked absent in our student management system. I quickly listen to the phone messages and check in with each class to make sure no students have snuck in late, and then click send.”

Most of Dunedin North Intermediate’s caregivers are familiar with receiving and responding to text messages as the neighbouring secondary school also uses School-links. Within minutes the parents’ responses come straight into the student management system and Anne edits the code from unexplained absence to the appropriate non-attendance code.

Anne partners with the Deputy Principal to use the information collated in the student management system to look for patterns of non-attendance, “We are an intermediate school so these are mini-teenagers and we like to identify any issues quickly and work with Otago Wellness Trust to provide support for our young people.”

The school has also used the Emergency Alert app on occasion:

“We use it for anything urgent. Yes, you have to pay for the text alerts, but it saves my time – or the Principals – and more importantly we know that everyone has got the message.”

With thanks to Dunedin North Intermediate for sharing their experiences to benefit schools new to School-links.


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