A nationwide test of the digital infrastructure used to send emergency messages planned for Thursday afternoon has been rescheduled.
Fort Smith Schools’ Executive Director of Communication Zena Featherston Marshall said via text message that the district was notified late Monday of the change. She said Monday the district understands the test could be scary or startling for some, so it wanted students and their guardians to be aware.
According to a press release from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), a branch of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the test will now take place on Wednesday, Oct. 3. It was the planned backup date for the test — FEMA schedules backup dates for all tests in case of severe weather or significant national events — which is being moved because of the agency’s response to Hurricane Florence’s impact on parts of North and South Carolina.
Despite being postponed two weeks, the test will occur as originally planned. Anyone with a cellular-enabled mobile device can still anticipate getting two messages during the “Presidential Emergency Test” of FEMA’s new public warning system.
The messages are part of an assessment of the Integrated Public Alert and Warning System to determine the readiness of the system built to distribute them and analyze if improvements are needed. One message — the Emergency Alert System — will be sent at 1:18 p.m. and the second — the Wireless Emergency Alerts — will be sent at 1:20 p.m. They will clearly indicate that the messages are a part of the test.
Due to the test occurring during the school day, and the fact the messages are not optional and will be received unless the devices are turned off, several federal agencies, including the U.S. Department of Education Office of Safe and Healthy Students is suggesting institutions use the time to provide additional emergency education.
More information on the EAS and WEA can be found on the Department of Homeland Security’s website.