LARGO, Fla. — Two years after the Parkland massacre, school districts across the Tampa Bay area are continuously working on increasing security for student safety.
In Hillsborough County, the district is installing a new system that includes button badges for teachers and staff. Just press, and within seconds, authorities know where the threat is coming from--down to the building, the hall, even the classroom. Superintendent Jeff Eakins gave an overview leading into the school year.
"Whether it's a life-threatening emergency, an active shooter...This particular technology not only is able to lock down the school, but it provides audio cues to tell people exactly what to do,” he said.
In Pinellas, the district has either a school resource officer or an armed school safety officer at every site. There's also a partnership with an outside security company for a new emergency lockdown system that instantly alerts police.
"The emergency lockdown buttons, better known as panic buttons, have been in all of our schools since the beginning of this school year,” said Isabel Mascareñas, spokesperson for Pinellas County Schools. "The Pinellas County School District is always concerned about your child's security. It is our highest of priorities."
Pasco has a "CrisisGo" app with a panic button. That could raise concerns about cybersecurity, but in a world where just about everyone lives on their smartphones, experts say we need these tools at our fingertips.
In Sarasota, the district's spent $23 million on security, including bullet-resistant glass, new locks and cameras. There’s also a focus on mental health: a civility squad focuses on kindness to others and a crisis text line offers support 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
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