Sylvan School district: We could have tweeted that

Overnight manhunt inspires Sylvan to use Twitter account

September 1, 2009 

A day after neighborhoods around three of its schools in and around Village I were locked down Monday after a double homicide, Sylvan Union School District officials said it could have been a perfect opportunity to use their Twitter account.

Multiple streets in northeast Modesto were blocked off early Monday morning as police searched for suspects in the fatal shooting of two men near Coffee Road and Floyd Avenue. Some students and staff living near Orchard Elementary and Savage and Ustach middle schools were affected by the blockades.

"I know we had fewer students in school Monday. They were told to stay home and indoors," Sylvan Superintendent John Halverson said Tuesday.

Twitter, a social networking Web site, allows users to post short notes that followers can view instantly on computers or cell phones. It's an ideal way for schools to send out general information to parents and to circulate emergency notifications under circumstances such as Monday's shooting.

Although the school district used a phone tree to call homes with a recorded message about Monday's events, Twitter is another means to communicate quickly with families, Halverson said.

The district has had its Twitter account for months but hasn't been active on it. Halverson's assistant will be in charge of updating the district's Twitter feed.

Sylvan Union may be the only district in the county that uses Twitter. Stanislaus County Office of Education officials plan to start a Twitter account this fall.

"We've been talking about it for quite a while. We have our Web site, but some people don't go there. This is another form of getting the right information out there," Halverson said.

Bee staff writer Michelle Hatfield can be reached at mhatfield@modbee.com or 578-2339.

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