HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. — Safety is top of mind as schools get back in session across central Indiana.
Many schools are adding new safety measures like anonymous reporting and even panic buttons that can be accessed right from students’ and staff phones.
”People are thinking about public safety,” said Dr. Harold Olin, the Superintendent of Greenfield Central Schools. “We did receive a handful of concerns from our constituents over the summer.”
Olin said they’ve added an anonymous reporting app to every school issued device.
”That could be anything from bullying or something from a safety standpoint that they have a concern,” Olin said.
The same app is being added to the toolbox at the Avon Community School Corporation.
”The people monitoring that app can speak to that student immediately back and we can insure someone is dealing with that situation as soon as it occurs,” said Chase Lyday, the Chief of the Avon Schools Police Dept.
Lyday said tools like this are needed as data across the country are showing concerning trends.
”What data is showing compellingly across the country is that school are seeing an uptick in violence both from students to students and students to staff members,” Lyday said.
Hancock County leaders have signed on for another five year contract with Rave Mobile Safety. A software company that makes a panic button app used by all four Hancock County School systems the last four years.
Duda said having all four districts using the same system keeps everyone on the same page.
”Officers know when they’re going to something, or first responders, they know what they’re getting into because everyone speaks that same language,” Duda said.
Between the four school districts in Hancock County, every staff member has the Rave Panic Button app. Duda said it helps save precious seconds in an emergency. Teachers can just press a button and dispatch will know the basics of the emergency and where the call is coming from.
”The beauty of the panic button is they don’t have to call 911, that response is already being sent,”
Wes Anderson with the Community School Corporation of Southern Hancock County said staff love having the app.
”It’s good for our nurses to be able to push one button and then go back to caring for our student,” Anderson said.
Following last year, Duda said the future of the app was uncertain. A four year contract with Hancock County had expired and the plan was to pass the choice of keeping the app and paying for it onto the schools.
Duda said the Hancock County 911 Center was able to negotiate a good deal with Rave Mobile Safety and Hancock County agreed to continue paying for the service for another five years.
“There was a lot of uncertainty for the schools on where is that money going to come from for the next five years and thankfully we were able to get that for them and the county has decided school safety is a priority and we need to do that,” Duda said.
Even with all the exciting gadgets and apps there are nowadays to help keep schools safe, Lyday said it is still much more complicated than that.
”People have to drive processes which are the most elaborate and comprehensive approaches because we’re dealing with human behavior,” Lyday said. “We’re not simply throwing a product or quick fix at a very multifaceted, complex problem.”