e-Comm Alerts

A bi-weekly service of PenSPRA is the e-Comm Alert bulletin. The current issue is posted on this page, and an e-mail notifies members that a new issue is available.  
e-Comm Alerts highlight member news, state initiatives and items of interest in the field of educational communications. 

You may use articles from e-Comm alerts in your district publications, but please credit PenSPRA.
Past issues are in the right column.
CURRENT Issue: October 24, 2014 — Volume 10, #4

1. Ebola
2. Revised PSSA’s
3. Social Media Stats
4. Job Opportunity
5. Member Request
6. News from around the state and nation
Ebola is all over the news and it is likely your school has had a few calls about how your district might handle the situation if it worsens. Here are some quick facts about Ebola, and below is a series of links that might be helpful in your communications.
  • Ebola is extremely infectious but it is not extremely contagious. (It is so infectious, because a tiny amount can cause illness.)
  • Ebola is only considered moderately contagious because the virus is not transmitted through the air. (The most contagious diseases, such as measles or influenza, are airborne.)
  • Humans can be infected by other humans if they come in contact with bodily fluids from an infected person or contaminated objects from infected persons.
  • Symptoms of Ebola typically include: weakness, fever, aches, diarrhea, vomiting and stomach pain.
  • Typically, symptoms appear 8-10 days after exposure to the virus, but the incubation period can span two to 21 days.
  • Ebola victims are not contagious until they are symptomatic.
  • The Ebola virus is easily killed with bleach, soap, sunlight, or drying.
  • Deadly human Ebola outbreaks have been confirmed in the following countries: Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Gabon, South Sudan, Ivory Coast, Uganda, Republic of the Congo (ROC), Guinea and Liberia.
These points bear repeating:
  • Ebola is NOT SPREAD through the air.
  • You can’t catch Ebola from someone until they are showing symptoms of Ebola.
  • Ebola particles on surfaces are easily killed by soap, bleach or hand sanitizer.
Here are some infographics and articles which might be useful:
Revised PSSA’s
There are substantial changes in store with this year’s PSSA’s. The difficulty level of the tests has increased significantly as they come in line with the PA core standards. You can review samples of the revised tests at the link below. The third grade language arts test is a good example of the increased difficulty. School Districts may want to plan some additional communication to their parents and communities regarding these changes.
Social Media Stats
If your district is considering branching out into social media, here are some useful statistics about social media use. 73% of online adults now use a social media site of some kind. Although some administrators may be nervous about branching out with this new communication tool, there is no denying that it is a fast, free and effective way to reach your audience.
Also consider this stat if your district is concerned about marketing and retaining students: Private and charter schools spend 10-25% of their budgets on communication and marketing. Public schools spend one tenth of one percent. That’s right - .001%.
Again, social media has no start up costs. A staff member with access to the internet on a laptop or smart phone can update your district social media accounts anytime, anywhere. It is hard to argue with the reach and cost of social media if your district is struggling with a branding problem and losing students to private and charter schools. It is clearly an option worth considering!   Here is the link to more information about social media usage.
Job Opportunity
The State College Area School District is looking for a Director of Communications. Details on the position are here 
Member Request
Jessica Lester at Perkiomen Valley is looking for other districts' guidelines and/or policies when it comes to honoring requests from associated volunteer groups -- like Home & School, booster clubs, Post Prom, etc. -- to publicize fundraising efforts via the district-wide email notification system. You can reach Jessica at jlester@pvsd.org.
News from around the state and nation

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Contact PenSPRA
If you have an item for e-Comm Alert, please contact Karen Smith
Vicki Flotta, President, Bethel Park SD (412) 854-8438
Angela Linch, Secretary/Treasurer, Methacton SD (610) 489-5020
Karen Smith, PenSPRA Executive Director (215) 622-1779
Nicole McGalla, Immediate Past President, (610) 351-5630
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