For parents looking for up-to-date information on Fort Jackson schools, those updates are now as close as their own phones.

The new "One Call" system allows the school system to contact parents automatically by phone to provide notification of student absences, school cancellations, upcoming event reminders and more. The system has been in place since March.

"The 'One Call' system was developed to help schools provide an effective way of communication with our parents," said Carol Kress, principal of C.C. Pinckney Elementary School. "With just a couple of clicks of a mouse, we can get the information out to our parents in a timely manner.

When school officials activate the system, telephone numbers parents provide to the school are automatically dialed. If the call cannot be completed at one number, One Call will try an alternate number. It then logs how many attempts are made and whether the call was answered by a person or an answering machine.

Because the system is automated, it is important for parents to keep their contact information current. "I can't stress enough the importance of them updating their information with the schools," Kress said. "That is the critical link."

Parents should make sure the schools are notified when changes to home phone numbers, cell phone numbers and e-mail addresses occur. Kress said the system is working well, and allows schools to notify parents of changes, even when the schools are closed.

"If it's a message that has to go out after duty hours, we can do that," she said. "It's really just a great system."