Prompted by the shootings last month at Virginia Tech that left 33 people dead, Red Bank Regional High School has become the second school district in New Jersey to implement an email and text message alert system, today’s Asbury Park Press reports.

The system will employ cellphone text messaging and email to alert parents and students about developments as innocuous as weather-related closings and as serious as security-related lockdowns.

From the story:

Superintendent Edward Westervelt said letters will be sent to parents later this week about the instant notification system and how to sign up. The school security and safety committee took steps to implement the system after the Virginia Tech shootings, he said.

“It came out of that terrible incident at Virginia Tech. We think it will be very helpful,” Westervelt said. “You never know when an emergency or some safety issue will come up when students are on their way to school or on a field trip.”

The text message system also is a way to get information to students in the midst of a lockdown, which they have practiced during the year, he said.

“We’ve practiced them where students are brought into a classroom and the doors are locked and the windows covered, everyone wants to know what’s going on,” Westervelt said. “We could communicate with students . . . without using the school PA, which we might not want to do with an intruder in the building.”

Students and parents can sign up for the text and e-mail alerts, known as RBR@alert, on the school Web site at www.rbrhs.org. The text system is an extention of a telephone chain system, which has been in use for the past five to six years, Westervelt said.

Unlike that system, parents, guardians and students must “opt-in” to receive text messages from the school. Sign-up for the phone chain is automatic.

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