Communication Practices and Procedures

General Communication

The Salem City School Division strives to provide a high level of communication to parents, students, and the community. Information is provided through a variety of communication efforts to ensure that stakeholders have the knowledge necessary to ensure a high level of parent and community involvement in our schools. One of the tools used to facilitate our communication efforts is the SchoolMessenger© mass communication system.

SchoolMessenger©

Generally, SchoolMessenger© is used to provide parents with information related to school-wide and/or group specific events and activities, attendance reporting, and school closings and delays. While SchoolMessenger© is a valuable tool, it does not replace more traditional forms of communication such as newsletters, direct mailings, announcements, flyers, personal phone calls, emails, etc. The Salem City Schools strive to be deliberate and judicious in our use of SchoolMessenger© in order to provide timely information without becoming intrusive or burdensome.

Public Health Concerns

In any environment where a large number of people are in close contact for extended periods of time, communicable diseases can be of great concern, specifically when the spread of the illness could have serious consequences. School divisions rely heavily on the state and local health departments when dealing with public health concerns. In the event of a confirmed case of a communicable disease that poses a significant health concern to the public, the local health department will contact the school and advise us on an appropriate communication plan. If you have questions or concerns about a potential public health concern you should contact Hope White, Epidemiologist, Roanoke/Alleghany Health Districts @ 540-283- 5032 or by email at hope.white@vdh.virginia.gov.

Rumors

Occasionally, in any work place or school environment, incomplete, inaccurate, or unfounded information (rumors) are propagated in a manner that can become disruptive. When this occurs, school personnel will work diligently to investigate the source and accuracy of the information. In the event that the rumor relates to the safety of students, faculty, or the broader school community, local law enforcement will be involved in the investigation. We place great emphasis on safeguarding the confidentiality of our students and families and will not combat rumors at the expense of confidentiality even when doing so could be beneficial from a public relations perspective. We will not use the SchoolMessenger© mass communication system to address rumors. Doing so would reward rumormongers by accelerating the dissemination of the rumor to the maximum audience. Rest assured that if there is ever an actionable threat that represents a risk to our students, we will notify parents. If you ever have information or questions regarding a safety concern in any of the Salem City Schools, please contact an administrator directly by phone immediately.

Social Media

While social media is a handy tool for connecting with friends, sharing pictures, and making general announcements, it is not the best tool for the job of getting accurate answers to questions or constructively addressing concerns.  If you have a question or concern involving your child’s school, please call or email your child’s teacher or principal.  The Salem City School Board has a proven and longstanding approach to expecting that questions or concerns be addressed as close to the source as possible to provide a prompt and accurate resolution.  (To learn more please our online Questions or Concerns resource.)

Frequently Asked Questions

When will the school division communicate a potential health concern?

In the event of a public health concern, the attending physician/hospital will alert the local health department that an illness has been confirmed. The local health department will communicate the necessary information to the public. In the event that the confirmed case involves a student or staff member, and the health department advises the division to communicate the confirmed case to parents and the community, the division will work with the local health department to develop an appropriate message for students and parents and will disseminate the information as directed.

How does the school handle information that indicates a potential threat to staff, students, or the school community?

school personnel will investigate the source and accuracy of the information. In the event that the rumor relates to the safety of students, faculty, or the broader school community, local law enforcement will be involved in the investigation. If there is a serious incident or credible threat involving a school or schools, parents will be notified in a timely and appropriate manner.

What information will be communicated to staff, students, and/or parents?

The Division will not combat rumors at the expense of confidentiality even when doing so could be beneficial from a public relations perspective. We will not use the SchoolMessenger© mass communication system to address rumors. Doing so would reward rumormongers by accelerating the dissemination of the rumor to the maximum audience. If there is ever an actionable threat that represents a risk to our students, we will notify parents.

How is information communicated to staff, students and/or parents?

Information is routinely communicated to staff through announcements, email, and faculty meetings. This provides staff members with the most accurate and up-to- date information in order to combat the disruptive effects of rumors. If the administration believes that it is necessary to provide information to students and/or parents, the information may be provided through a variety of communication options including, but not limited to, an automated email/phone message, a letter home, information posted to the website, etc.

How do you decide between email, phone, and text communications?

Due to significant limitations to the amount of information that can be sent via text, the division does not routinely use text communications. Information that is valuable to parents but not urgent will typically be sent by email. Phone messages sent during the school day create a significant disruption to the school environment and will be limited to situations where it is critical that parents have information immediately.

What is the threshold for reporting information to staff, students, and/or parents?

The School Principal will work directly with the Superintendent or his designee to determine the need for further communication based on the source and accuracy of the information. If there is an actual threat that represents a risk to students, parents will be notified.

Why doesn’t the school communicate rumors of potential threats to parents?

The Division will not combat rumors at the expense of confidentiality even when doing so could be beneficial from a public relations perspective. We will not use the SchoolMessenger© mass communication system to address rumors. Doing so would reward rumormongers by accelerating the dissemination of the rumor to the maximum audience.

Will the school communicate the resolution of investigations into potential threats?

Disciplinary and legal proceedings involving minors are private and cannot be shared with the public. Therefore, the resolution of disciplinary matters that involve school-aged children will not be communicated to the public.

What about social media?

Generally, social media is used to provide parents with information related to school-wide and/or group specific events and activities. While social media is a valuable tool, it does not replace more traditional forms of communication such as newsletters, direct mailings, announcements, flyers, personal phone calls, emails, etc. Social media will not be used to address rumors or other potential disruptions that occur in our schools.

What is my responsibility as a parent?

If you are aware of any information that indicates a potential threat or disruption, you should report it to a school or school division administrator immediately.

What do I do if I have information/questions?

If you ever have information or questions regarding a safety concern in any of the Salem City Schools, please contact an administrator directly by phone immediately.

Central Office 389-0130

Salem High 387-2437

Andrew Lewis Middle 387-2513

East Salem Elementary 375-7001

G.W. Carver Elementary 387-2492

South Salem Elementary 387-2478

West Salem Elementary 387-2503