SchoolLink is a new app developed for the Surrey School District to improve communication between schools and parents.

‘Bottom of the knapsack’ syndrome? Surrey has an app for that

Free SchoolLink app for iPhones and iPads aims to improve communication between the district, schools and parents.

Need to know if your school is closed due to snow or a power outage? Did you miss photo day? Wonder why the local school is locked down? Or if there’s a reunion coming up?

A new free Surrey School District app will allow anyone with a mobile device to keep up-to-date on the latest school news.

Called SchoolLink, the app includes access to general school district announcements and features, but also allows the user to select which individual schools they wish to follow and receive regular and urgent information from.

A parent with children in both elementary and high school, for example, could choose both and receive notifications from each of them in a newsfeed.

The application was proposed in January 2012 and development got underway that spring.

“It’s always been a challenge to try to ensure that communications from the district get to parents,” said Doug Strachan, communications manager for Surrey schools. “Whether it’s the ‘bottom of the knapsack syndrome’ that we need to overcome, or having to pay postage to send personal letters to parents for important information, the use of technology is what needed to be pursued next.”

With an increasing number of parents contacting schools via email or using smartphones, an app was a “natural step,” he said.

SchoolLink is currently available to those with iPhones and iPads only, but an Android version is in the works and will hopefully be available sometime around Christmas.

“We know there are other platforms out there, but we had to start somewhere,” said Strachan.

The app allows users to choose what updates they receive – special announcements, featured stories and news – which reflect what schools have posted on their websites.

During a security lockdown, for example, a school would post a quick, brief alert on their website, which would go directly to parents who have chosen to receive notifications. The district is working with school staff to ensure postings are consistent.

“The company that developed it with us (Habanero Consulting), was sensitive to the fact that we needed it to be very simple and not disruptive, particularly for the schools, and of course simple for parents to sign on with and take advantage of,” Strachan said.

The app’s development cost the district about $120,000. Habanero took on approximately 40 per cent of the cost because the company hadn’t done apps for the web platform (SharePoint) used by the school district and considered the cost a research and development investment.

The district will receive reports on how much SchoolLink is being used and welcome feedback from parents and schools about how its working or if there’s ways it can be improved. A pilot was run at a handful of schools in June and though there wasn’t a lot of feedback, there were also few problems reported.

Paper and email newsletters will still be distributed to varying degrees, depending on the school.

Other future developments of the app may include school calendars, blogs, class schedules, staff contact information and the ability to follow teams and clubs. It’s also hoped the app can foster two-way communication between parents, schools and the district.

To download the app, visit the App Store on your iPad or iPhone and search “SchoolLink.”

Surrey North Delta Leader

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Cloverdale high school teacher chats about teaching and life during the COVID-19 crisis

Surrey’s Walter van Halst sits down for an informal ‘virtual’ coffee to discuss education’s current new reality

Celebrating Easter in Surrey, during COVID-19

Surrey’s Christian churches rise to the occasion, despite Coronavirus challenges

33-storey Whalley highrise, first of three phases, moves to public hearing

Councillors raise concerns about school overcrowding, green roofs

Regional parks in Delta closed for the long weekend

Boundary Bay and Deas Island parks closed ‘until further notice’ on Thursday, April 9

COVID-19 death toll reaches 50 in B.C., while daily case count steadies

B.C. records 34 new cases in the province, bringing total active confirmed cases to 462

B.C. unveils $5M for mental health supports during the COVID-19 pandemic

Will include virtual clinics and resources for British Columbians, including front-line workers

B.C.’s COVID-19 rent supplement starts taking applications

$300 to $500 to landlords for April, May and June if eligible

Reality TV show about bodybuilders still filming in Okanagan, amid COVID-19

Five bodybuilders from across the country flew to Kelowna to move into a house for a reality TV show

B.C.’s top doctor details prescription for safe long weekend

Yes, it includes hosting an online cooking show

BC SPCA seeks help for abandoned German shepherd puppies

Donations have ‘petered out’ as doors are closed due to COVID-19

Researchers to study whether plasma of recovered patients can treat COVID-19

Plasma is the liquid portion of the blood that contains the antibodies that protect against illness

B.C., Alberta health ministers urge public to stay home Easter weekend

Regional politicians, online petition calling for closure of provincial border to non-essential traffic

Most Read