Early Alert Communications System

The ConnectNow Rapid Communication Service is designed specifically to address school communication needs by allowing schools to deliver voice and email messages within minutes to telephones or any Internet-enabled device, including mobile phones and computers.

The ConnectNow system allows the district and individual schools the ability to keep parents informed about upcoming school events as well as quickly send notifications about any school incidents that may occur, such as power outages or after school cancellations due to inclement weather. Important school reminders will be sent by email or to the household number provided for each student. In an emergency situation, up to 10 telephone numbers and 4 email addresses for each student will be contacted instantaneously.
If you have not yet provided your school with an email address and current telephone contact information, please contact your school office so you can be included in all important communications.
Contact the TCAPS Communications Office at 231.933.1783 by email at info@tcaps.net for more information.

What is ConnectNow?

Schools administrators can use the ConnectNow system to enhance parental involvement at their schools by delivering important and/or time sensitive information while engaging any specific audience with a unique message that can be recorded in a familiar authoritative voice.Administrators can:
  • Reach thousands of parents in minutes
  • Send notifications even when school phone lines are down
  • Rapidly deliver information for emergency and non-emergency situations
  • Perform polls and surveys
  • Send reminders for P/T conferences, report cards, upcoming events, etc.
ConnectNow displays the school phone number on caller identification devices (Caller ID) for non-emergency calls and distinguishes urgent emergency calls with a “411″ caller ID display. ConnectNow gives schools the ability to deliver the right information to the right people at the right time.

Frequently Asked Questions

Below are some frequently asked questions parents may have regarding phone messages received from the school using the ConnectNow Rapid Communications System.

I said “hello” and no message played. Why?

The ConnectNow system plays the message as soon as the phone is picked up. However, errors can occur if the person repeatedly says “hello” or answers in a noisy environment (i.e. traffic, children playing, loud music or television, dogs barking, etc.). Generally, if a person offers an extended greeting such that it overlaps the ConnectNow message, the system pauses, waits for silence, and replays the message from the beginning. With background noise, it is possible that the system was unable to detect the end of the “greeting” and thus the message did not initiate. If you miss all or part of the message, you may call ConnectNow’s toll-free number to replay the message. From the phone that was called, dial 1-855-473-7529 or 1-855-4REPLAY.

How does the system distinguish a live person from an answering machine?

In short, ConnectNow utilizes the industry’s most Advanced Answering Machine Detection (AAMD) software. The system starts the broadcast immediately upon telephone pickup; simultaneously, it is listening for interruptions. If the system is not interrupted by noise or someone speaking within the first 3.5 seconds, the message is delivered in its entirety. If the system detects a greeting longer than a few seconds, the system treats this as an outgoing message from an answering machine and will wait for a pause (usually after the beep) before delivering the message to be recorded.

What if the line is busy or there is no answer?

The ConnectNow system will make up to four attempts to reach each number, with three minutes in between each call. If the message is not delivered by the fourth attempt, it is considered a failed number. Failures happen when a phone number is busy, disconnected, invalid, etc.

Why is my answering machine recording only half of the message?

If the answering machine greeting is sporadic with varied periods of silence, the system will read this as a live person and begin playing the message, even though the machine has yet to start recording. This will result in a recording of silence (if the ConnectNow message finishes playing before the machine begins recording) or of just the last portion of the ConnectNow message. The recommended solution is to have parents re-record their outgoing message so that there are no pauses. If the answering machine is set to record for a specific amount of time (e.g. 30 seconds) and the ConnectNow message runs longer than that, this will also result in message cut-off. The recommended solution is to have parents set their machines to record for a longer period. For voice mailboxes where it is necessary to enter a mailbox number, ConnectNow is unable to leave a message.

My caller ID showed that the school had called but there was no voicemail. Why?

If there is a break or a substantial silence in the outgoing voicemail message, the system determines it has reached a live person and begins the message prior to the voicemail recording being engaged. Please make sure that the greeting is seamless to facilitate successful message delivery.

Why doesn’t the school’s phone number appear on the caller ID?

ConnectNow passes the caller ID information to the local telephone carriers, but it is up to those carriers to pass it along to their customers. Different local telephone companies process caller ID information differently. Some provide the name associated with the number, while others do not. For example, a telephone company may require an individual to subscribe to “Advanced Caller ID” in order to receive the school name along with the phone number. Unfortunately, we have no control over this feature.

Will the system call phone numbers with extensions?

The ConnectNow system only works with direct-dial phone numbers. The system is unable to navigate menus or extensions. (If the phone system allows the caller to immediately enter an extension, or there is a live receptionist, then ConnectNow has a good chance of being successful in placing the call.)

I have a telemarketer screening device. How will that affect the call?

If a contact has a device on their telephone line designed to prevent automated phone systems from connecting (e.g. TeleZapper, Privacy Manager, Privacy Director, etc.), they may not receive the call. For example, with Privacy Director all unidentifiable incoming calls are rerouted and the callers must identify themselves for the call to go through. Because our system is automated, it will not identify itself; thus the call will not get through to the recipient. For screening systems that are dependent on Caller ID’s, recipients can authorize access for their school’s phone number through their device. Note that calls identified with the school’s number on the Caller ID generally have no trouble getting through Privacy Manager type systems. Only calls with the non-standard emergency Caller ID of 411 tend to get caught up in Privacy Manager’s net.

Additional Information on the CONNECTNOW Service

The system will leave a message on the contact’s voicemail or answering machine. However, the system is set to ring each line six times. If your answering machine is set to pick up on seven or more rings, the message may not be delivered to your machine. Therefore, we encourage you to set your machine to six rings or fewer.