By Darrell Wacker
Last Thursday much of Vandalia, as well as the Vandalia-Butler City Schools, had two major concerns.
The first, a nearly city-wide power outage, was resolved fairly quickly but came just before schools started letting out for the day. Butler’s Principal, Tom Luebbe, very quickly took to Twitter and announced school would be dismissing at the usual time and also reminded students that unlit stoplights should be regarded as 4-way stop signs.
The Vandalia Drummer News retweeted Mr. Luebbe very quickly in order to inform parents and students alike.
The power was restored relatively quickly and the rest of the district was unaffected.
The second, and potentially more dangerous incident was the police presence on Heather Court. That incident, which left one man dead of an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, delayed student’s release from Helke Elementary School by about 30 minutes.
While students were never in danger, parents were understandably concerned about their safety as well as when and how the students would be released.
During this event, I was in constant contact with school officials as well as police. The Vandalia Drummer News updated the student’s status on Facebook and Twitter several times until it was apparent that students were on their way home.
A short time later Superintendent Rob O’Leary sent out a one-call to parents to inform them of what was happening.
I mention both of these incidents because in a crisis, school officials cannot always communicate directly with parents as quickly as they would like. They are, as they should be, making sure that students are safe and planning for contingencies as needed.
The Vandalia Drummer News is part of the district’s communication plan, and its a responsibility I take very seriously. Be it the bomb threat at Butler a couple of years ago, last year’s threats at Morton, or last Thursday’s events, the district intentionally uses this publication’s social media platforms to supplement its own in order to communicate quickly and to as large an audience as possible.
I’m proud of the relationship that has been established with the Vandalia-Butler City Schools. It is based on trust, responsibility, and the overall good of the students, the community, and the school district.
In times of crisis, you can count on the Vandalia Drummer to relay accurate information as quickly and as often as possible. If you haven’t already, I encourage you to follow us on Facebook and on Twitter (@VandaliaDrummer.)
Reach Darrell Wacker at 937-684-8983 or on Twitter @VandaliaDrummer.