Eighteen minutes and 18 calls later, she got through to the school and the woman who answered quickly said, "Your child is here, everything is fine, the whole school got that message. Phones are ringing off the hook." My sister, never one to have a filter, which is particularly understandable in this situation, said: "Jesus Christ you gave us all a heart attack." Then she hung up and called her husband, then the bus company to tell them what had happened, and then me. She said the practical part of her kept trying to tell herself there had been a mistake and that everything was probably fine. But the mother in her was freaking the %&$^@ out. I think I would have been doing the latter.
I immediately reached out to my two friends who have first graders at the same school to see if they were OK. They were not. They were both still shaking, completely distraught. And they were livid. Apparently, tons of parents (and caregivers and grandparents) went flying up to the school. That must have been some scene. It's a K-4 school and every single student's family got that message. Even thinking about getting that call from my son's school made me cry. I would have thought he'd been abducted or passed out on the bus and didn't get off or any number of horrible scenarios. My one friend said all she could think about was Sandy Hook. She figured a shooter had gotten in and shot the phone lines and computers and caused that message to go out. Or maybe someone had intentionally sent the message to alert everyone that something was really wrong. The other assumed the school was on lockdown, which is why no one could get through. With the Newtown shooting still so fresh and all the other tragedies we read about, it's no wonder our minds immediately go to such dark places.
At 12:34 p.m., over an hour after the absent kid call, the parents got this message:
"Good morning ________ parents. This call is to inform you that due to a technical glitch associated with the student management system, numerous attendance/absence calls were sent in error earlier today. Please note that we are currently addressing the matter and sincerely apologize for the subsequent confusion. If your child was, in fact, absent today, please follow the routine practice of sending an attendance letter with your child on Tuesday. Thank you."
Parents haven't heard anything else since then. Today is a holiday, of course, but I can't help thinking the school should have said or done a little more by way of explanation/apology. And maybe they will. I can only imagine the angry letters the district is going to get. I do understand that mistakes happen and computers aren't perfect, but telling hundreds of parents that their children are not at school where they're supposed to be isn't really excusable is it? Yes, the most important thing is that everyone is OK and it wasn't a real emergency. But that doesn't take away from the fact that a lot of people were put through a ton of undue stress on Friday — thinking they were facing every parent's worst nightmare.
What would you have done? Would you have thought the worst or assumed it was a glitch? Would you be pissed or more understanding? I'd love to hear your thoughts!