Wake up! No school! Robo-calls sound the alarms.
Mother Nature has spoken - and now she can move on. That's what many were thinking Tuesday when they woke up to snow the day before the start of spring.
But for parents throughout the area, the very first thought that morning was: Who's calling? Their day started with a jarring one-way "chat" with the superintendent. The recorded voice essentially told them they could go back to sleep: There would be no school for their kids. On the land line and on the cellphones - of both parents and all the kids in some cases - residents sometimes got repeated word before sunrise of something they already knew or suspected before they'd gone to bed.
Over their morning coffee or cereal, they might have found out again via email. Meanwhile, TVs and radios were reminding them the old-fashioned way.
Schools increasingly use robo-calls to alert about school closings and other announcements. Recipients usually can opt out, but many want and appreciate the service. It's convenient. But, it can be too much of a good thing, too early in the day.
In Oxford Tuesday, the public school system's robo-calls came in rolling form, as if someone had hit the snooze button. Many parents and students received four of the calls, 15 minutes apart, beginning at 5:30 a.m. A similar problem occurred in Leicester.
IMG Software of Framingham said its iAutoAlert system had a glitch that's been corrected. The company also noted that parents can have their personal settings adjusted if they're getting too many calls because of multiple numbers on file.
We sympathize with all those shortchanged on sleep this winter because of snow and robo-calls. Like Mother Nature, modern life can be frustrating. Once upon a time, a blanket of white would be laid down outside overnight, and a waking household would be lulled by that luck into hot cocoa and quiet, computers having absolutely no say about anything.