Blackboard Mass Notifications
Providing timely, useful information to parents and other community members is a critical function for teachers, principals and the LCPS central administration. The primary tool LCPS uses for this important function is software from a company called Blackboard, a leading education technology company for teaching, learning and student engagement. From unexcused absence notices to back-to-school night plans, from weekly newsletters to announcements about special meetings and seminars, users across the division rely on this tool to share information on a daily basis.
On November 1, 2019, LCPS will upgrade to a new version of the Blackboard tool called “Blackboard Mass Notifications.” This change is part of LCPS’ commitment to continuous improvement.
The new system integrates very effectively with other new tools LCPS is using, enabling more consistent and timely communication across several different platforms that families and staff use. LCPS administrators have been training on the new system in advance of the transition, to help ensure that the change is seamless for users.
Parents are encouraged to confirm that the contact information in their ParentVue profile is accurate. Blackboard uses that information to address messages, and having accurate information on file is critical. Instructions for correcting errors in ParentVue are included in the Frequently Asked Questions below.
One new feature of the tool is the ability for LCPS to send text messages. This is in addition to the emails, phone calls, push notifications to the LCPS mobile app and other options already in place. Parents can opt out of receiving texts if they wish (data fees, text messaging rates, or international charges may apply depending on users’ phone carrier). That process is described below and in the Frequently Asked Questions document [link to PDF] that is available for downloading.
LCPS is committed to providing the information families need on a timely basis. For answers to some questions you may have, please review the Frequently Asked Questions information below. Additional queries about the system can be addressed to BlackboardMN@lcps.org.
Blackboard Mass Notifications FAQ
What is Blackboard Mass Notifications?
Blackboard Mass Notifications is a messaging system that allows Loudoun County Public Schools (LCPS) school administrators and division officials to send messages to parents, staff and students using any combination of several different types of messaging: email, phone calls, SMS text messages, posts to Facebook and Twitter, push notifications to the LCPS mobile app and website alerts at LCPS.org. Blackboard Mass Notifications has replaced the BlackboardConnect system.
What happened to BlackboardConnect? As part of LCPS’s commitment to continuous improvement, we determined that upgrading to the Blackboard Mass Notifications system provides more options for communicating with parents, staff and students, as well as additional management features for users. The system integrates effectively with other new tools LCPS is using, such as a new website content management system, allowing more consistent and timely communication.
Will LCPS be communicating differently using Blackboard Mass Notifications? New this year, LCPS will be able to send SMS text messages to parents and staff allowing us to communicate in a more effective, timely manner.
Please note: By choosing to receive text messages or phone calls, standard data fees, text messaging rates, or international charges may apply based on your plan with your phone carrier. Mobile access and text message delivery is subject to your mobile carrier’s network availability, so access and delivery is not guaranteed.
Can I respond to text messages I receive? Your school will NOT receive responses you send to text messages from Blackboard Mass Notifications. If you need to communicate with your school regarding information contained in a text message, please contact the school via phone or email.
How does Blackboard Mass Notifications obtain parent, student, and family data? Parents do not need to sign up for email, SMS text, and phone notifications. Blackboard Mass Notifications uses contact information from the LCPS’ student information system, ParentVUE (the parent portal for the Phoenix information system). Mass Notifications receives data directly from ParentVUE on a nightly basis.
To make sure you receive emergency notifications, including weather-related school closings, please verify your contact information is correct in ParentVUE. To fix incorrect information, please log into the ParentVUE Parent Portal (portal.lcps.org) and update your email address(es). If you have phone number updates or other changes, please contact your child's school.
How does Blackboard Mass Notifications obtain employee data? Mass Notifications receives employee data directly from Oracle on a nightly basis. If information is incorrect in Blackboard, it is because the information is incorrect in Oracle. To fix incorrect information or to receive text messages, please log into the Oracle Self Service module to include a cell phone number, update your home phone number and verify your LCPS email address is listed correctly.
Why do I get calls/texts on multiple phones? Blackboard Mass Notifications calls the home/primary number listed for all primary contacts in ParentVUE. Text messages are sent to all cell numbers listed under all the primary contacts in ParentVUE.
I would rather not receive calls regarding school closings and delays, can I opt-out? Yes. Parents can opt-out of receiving weather-related closing and delay messages by editing your preferences in ParentVUE:
1) Log into portal.lcps.org in a browser
2) Click on Student Info
3) Select the Edit Information button
4) Scroll to the Student Options section
5) Find the option for Weather Opt-Out and
6) Enter “YES” in the Changed Value column to opt out of weather-related messages only.
Can I opt-out of phone calls, text messages, or emails? While LCPS DOES NOT recommend it, you do have the ability to opt-out of non-emergency phone messages, all text messages, and all emails. Non-emergency phone messages are categorized as messages not related to student safety. You MAY NOT opt out of emergency phone messages. This is for the benefit of your child. Emergency message examples are: attendance calls, school closure/early releases, evacuations, access restrictions, etc. (Note: Attendance calls are considered emergency messages because they pertain to student safety).
How do I opt-out of text, email, or phone messages?
- For phone messages, please listen to the entire message. At the end of the message, follow the prompts to opt-out. You can also opt out by calling the Blackboard Phone Hotline at 855-502-STOP (855-502-7867).
- For email messages, please use the link at the bottom of any email message to unsubscribe.
- For text messages, please reply to the text message with the word "STOP" to cancel.
How do I opt back in to text, email or phone messages?
- To opt back into phone messages, call the Blackboard Phone Hotline at 855-502-STOP (855-502-7867) from the phone line that has been opted out.
- To opt back into text messages, Text the word "START" to "60680" from the phone line that has been opted out for non-emergency messages. Text the word "START" to "54968" for emergency messages.
- To opt back into email messages, please contact your child’s school and request to be opted back into Blackboard Mass Notifications emails.
Is there a way to identify that these calls and texts are from Loudoun County Public Schools? Yes! First, create a new contact in your contacts list on your mobile device called Loudoun County Public Schools. Then add the phone number 703-996-2199 and text numbers 60680 & 54968. Any texts or calls you receive from the division in the future will be identified as "Loudoun County Public Schools.”
You may also want to add a contact for each of your children’s school phone numbers with the school name as well. Phone messages from the school will come from the main school phone number. Text messages will always come from one of the two numbers listed above.
I received the call, but my answering machine cut it off. Why? The system attempts to detect whether a live person or an answering machine has answered the call. In rare instances, such as when an answering machine message contains a period of silence, the system will detect an answering machine as a live person and start to deliver the message prior to the beep. Sometimes, a message is cut off by an answering machine simply because its duration is longer than the machine allows for a single message. Generally, an answering machine will cut off a message after one minute.
I received the call on my cell phone, but it kept looping/repeating. Why? The system does its best to detect whether there is a live person or an answering machine answering the call. Sometimes when there is background noise, the system inappropriately detects a live person as an answering machine. When this happens, it continues to wait for the answering machine’s beep followed by a brief moment of silence before starting to play the message from the beginning. The parent can prevent the message from looping by minimizing background noise or pressing mute on the phone.
Will there be other attempts to reach me if I am unable to pick up the call? Yes, the system will make up to three attempts to reach you or your answering machine. If it is unable to reach you after three attempts, it will stop calling. Many messages are also sent by email, so the information will still be shared with the recipients.
I am receiving calls/messages, but I do not have any children in Loudoun County Public Schools. How can I stop these? Most times when this occurs, the number was previously used by an LCPS parent. If you are having this issue, please email BlackboardMN@LCPS.org provide the phone number or email address and ask to be removed from the Mass Notifications System.