School districts now using phone apps for safety

SCHOOL SECURITY APPS

WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Across Texoma, school districts are changing the way they secure their schools.

Whether it's warning people of a suspicious person on campus, alerting first responders, or reporting bullying, school districts can now do it all. Easily through an app on their phones.

Wichita Falls ISD is now using the app "Navigate Prepared" that allows teachers and staff across the district to communicate not only with each other, but also with first responders.

“You want your child to be safe at school, you want to know that when you drop them off that they're safe and that we're hopefully doing everything we can do to keep them safe,” Wichita Falls ISD risk and contracts manager Betsi Morton said.

The plans and language used in the app is standardized with what’s used by law enforcement. “We have over 60 WFISD administrators that have done the FEMA training, so everybody’s on the same page,” Morton said.

Wichita Falls isn’t alone, in Burkburnett, they’re using apps too. One’s called "Anonymous Alerts” that lets students and parents report issues like bullying or substance abuse. But that’s not the only thing you can do in this app, assistant superintendent Dr. Brad Owen says it’s also a way to help kids who may be struggling outside of school.

“Some of the things we're seeing with mental health and things that are going on right now it allows students to make a report and possibly get some help they might need before they do something that is a life changing event,” Dr. Owen said.

Students can also have two-way chats with counselors if they ever just need someone to talk out their problems with. But that’s not the only app they’re using, called “Smart Button” it allows faculty to report suspicious activity they see on our approaching campus.

“It immediately broadcasts out to everyone on that campus within that reporting group that we're in lockdown and shutdown,” Dr. Owen said. “This is just another way, a simple way, technology way, utilize technology to the best of its ability that allows us to harden our schools without really changing the culture.”

While the "anonymous alerts" app is a great resource for students, it is only monitored on business days from 7 to 5. If there is an immediate emergency always dial 911.

You can find out more about this app on the Burkburnett ISD webpage and you can make a report here.

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