School District 63 is modernizing the way it communicates with parents and guardians as they move to implement the use of an app called ‘Sangha’ early next year.
Available to anyone with a smartphone, the app is free to download and will provide automatic notifications to users beginning in mid-January.
Dave Eberwein, superintendent of SD63 said parents and guardians also have the option to be notified via text or email and the new system also has the capability to send an automated message to a landline.
“We’re not getting rid of the way we’re currently communicating,” he says. “We’re just building on it.”
Sangha was chosen because of its “comprehensiveness and flexibility” Eberwein said, and its compatibility with the current system the school district uses.
As a result, the app will roll out in phases beginning with emergency notices only – school closures, lockdowns – and will eventually utilize other features where parents and guardians will be able to report absences, register for field trips or pay fees.
“We’re going to have a way to get that information out in a much more timely fashion than we have in the past,” he said.
— SD 63 Saanich (@sd63schools) December 17, 2018
Eberwein said the app is American, but hosted in Canada so the data it collects is stored locally and SD63 also conducted a privacy impact assessment on the technology. Widely used in the U.S. at least one other school district in B.C. has already put Sangha to use in North Vancouver.
“We are learning from their implementation,” Eberwein says. “As with anything IT-related, there are going to be some hiccups.”
The app has a per student cost of “a few thousand dollars a year” that Eberwein said will be paid for by the school district.
He recommends that any families who may have not updated their contact information do so through their student’s school office, which will automatically input the data into the Sangha system.
“It’s really quite handy,” he says.
For more information on Sangha, visit SD63.bc.ca.