You can send text messages to parents' and students' cell phones. (You cannot receive text messages, and this does not do instant messaging. Texting not available for the Free version.)
Send Text — Admins go to the screen, and teachers go to the Email screen to send text messages. You can choose to send the message as a text message, email, or both (i.e., they'll receive it on their cell phone and in their email).
Cell Numbers — Parents and students can enter their cell number on the Settings screen when they login. Or you may import cell numbers, or enter them manually on the or screen. Note you may list multiple phone numbers for each person, in which case you should label which one is the cell number. It accepts a variety of formats, like "555-555-5555 (mobile), 555-555-5555 (work)", or "cell: (555) 555-5555, work: (555) 555-5555". (It uses only one cell number per person. If they're not labeled, it uses the first phone number. Only U.S. cell numbers are accepted, and they must include the area code.)
Opt-in & Emergency Alerts — Parents and students must login to opt-in to receive text messages, or you may do so for them on the or screen. There is no option to opt-in all parents and students at once, but you can always send them Emergency Alerts even if they have not opted-in. This is useful for snow days, etc. That option is available when you send a text message.
Carriers — Also parents and students must select their wireless carrier (Verizon, AT&T, etc.). If the carrier is left blank or set to "Other", it will automatically look up their carrier later, but this is just a guess, so it's better to specify their carrier. (Technically, our servers send messages as email to the SMS gateway for each carrier. Please contact us if their carrier is not listed.)
Fees — Parents and students must pay standard message and data rates to receive text messages, so do not opt-in people against their will, and use the Emergency Alerts sparingly. (There is no cost for you to send text messages.)
Automatic Alerts — Parents receive automatic alerts for grades, attendance, and discipline as both email and a text message (if they have opted-in). The text messages are much shorter and less detailed than the emails, so they should login to see the details.
Log — Click the "View Log" button on the or screen to see what text messages have been sent. This shows both email and texts.
Invalid Numbers — If it detects a phone number is invalid, or the carrier is incorrect, it will opt-out that person. These errors are reported on the Log screen. (Note: Not all carriers report invalid numbers, so there is no guarantee that the person received the message, even if no error is reported.)
Currently Sprint, Nextel, Virgin, and Boost Mobile (all the same company) do not work. Their spam filter blocks our server. We have talked to them about this, and so have parents who are customers, but they are unwilling to improve their spam filter. For all other carriers:
• Make sure the cell number is 10-digits on the or screen.
• If a person has multiple phone numbers, make sure the cell number is clearly labeled. (Many formats accepted, like "cell", "mobile", "C:", "(m)", etc.)
• Make sure the carrier is correct (AT&T, T-Mobile, etc.).
• Make sure the person's wireless plan has text messaging enabled.
• If it won't save the opt-in setting, that means the phone number or carrier is incorrect. To retry the same number and carrier, change the carrier and save it, then change it back and save it.