Confusion over delay or early dismissal

There was a lot of confusion among parents this morning after Stamford Public Schools sent out an erroneous message, declaring there would be a delayed opening for the city’s schools, when in reality the district opted for a normal start time with an early dismissal.

“In an effort to expedite the delivery of our message, they inadvertently sent one that was in my draft file,” Stamford Public Schools Spokeswoman Sharon Beadle said during a phone conversation Friday morning. “It was just one of those days where everything that can go wrong will go wrong.”

After the wrong message was sent, Beadle said she “immediately sent out a clarifying voice message,” letting parents know schools would begin at their normal time, and operate under an early release schedule.

“The proper information had been posted on our Website at around 5:30 a.m. Winnie also Tweeted the proper information around the same time,” Beadle wrote in an email Friday morning.

But it takes a while for information to make the rounds to thousands of parents. One parent forwarded the second message to the Advocate, noting that he didn’t receive the message until 7:13 a.m. And he’s not the only one who didn’t get the proper information until way later than he should have. More than a dozen parents have chimed in on our Facebook page about the communication kerfuffle and its poor timing, including one woman named Beth St. James:

I get the call about early dismissal at 6:27. We leave for the bus at 6:25. We get up at 5:30. Even if the call did come at 6, it’s not really helpful. Then at 7:12, I get a call about the delayed opening–after the bus has come and gone. We declared a family snow day. Just not worth the risk.

And parents had to rely on the emails and phone calls coming through from Parent Link, since the district’s website went down due to the high traffic volume.

“There was like 16,000 hits in a short period of time, and it brought the website down,” Beadle explained Friday morning, noting that the district’s IT department is looking into the issue and assessing whether changes to the system need to be made.

We’re working on a story for Saturday’s paper about the confusion. Email or call Maggie at 203-964-2229 to weigh in an add your voice.

Categories: General
Maggie Gordon

4 Responses

  1. g says:

    Anyone can make a mistake; it’s not really such a big deal, is it? I can’t imagine that we need a whole story in the newspaper about it.

  2. Julie says:

    Many parents I spoke to today were also confused by a headline on the Stamford Advocate’s website. “Schools Close for Storm” I believe it said.

    Assuming that the Stamford Advocate is a newspaper about… oh I don’t know… maybe Stamford? One might see the headline and assume Stamford schools were closed.

  3. Kris says:

    In addition to those problems, WEBE radio twice announced Stamford as CLOSED, before making a correction around 6:15, later than my departure time as a commuting teacher.

  4. Julie says:

    We had this issue, both conflicting emails and conflicting phone calls, each one in reverse order (one call delay, one call early release – one email early release, one email delay) so we couldn’t even assume the second one was a correction, because each had the last message with a different answer.

    Solved the problem – called the bus company! After all, the bus company would know if there was a delay that affected their buses or not.

    They told us the school bus was coming at the usual time. We got out the door with 5 minutes to spare.