• Duval County Public Schools launching new pilot emergency phone system with panic button

    By: Courtney Cole , Action News Jax


    JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Story published 7/10/19:

    In about five weeks, students in Duval County will be heading back to school.

    This school year, the district is testing out an emergency notification system to enhance safety and security.

    “The initiative developed based on our review of recommendations (and) best practices from the Marjory Stoneman High School Public Safety Commission,” said Laureen Ricks, spokeswoman for Duval County Public Schools.

    Action News Jax's Courtney Cole explains how the system would work and the special feature it includes.

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    At the start of the 2019-2020 school year teachers, at three Duval County Public Schools, will have a new  way to call for help inside the classroom.

    The technology department is going to try a pilot emergency notification phone system, which will include a "panic button."

    If you’re wondering how the three schools were selected,  DCPS said the schools with the oldest phone technology were given priority. (The names of the three schools is not being disclosed for safety and security reasons.)

    The panic button would be a part of a telephone system, much like the one we have in our newsroom or in your office.

    Cole spoke to some people to find out what they think about the idea.

    "I think that's a smart idea,” James Kirschner said.

    "I don't see a problem with it. As long as the faculty are the ones in charge of it, 'cause I can see. You know, little kids pull fire alarm, so obviously you wouldn't want them to have access to that,” Antoinette Apolon said.

    Cole also spoke to a teacher who said he thinks DCPS is taking a smart approach.

    "I think it will enable teachers to alert staff of an emergency a lot faster. I think that that should make parents feel safer,” Charles Willard said.

    The success of the pilot will determine the district's next steps.

    "Anything that can help someone in an emergency, with all the terrorist activity going on, is sensible,” Kirschner said.

    Before DCPS can put this program in a larger number of schools, it would have to be approved by the school board.

    The pilot program would go from the start of the school year, through January 2020.

    The pilot program is free for the district during the testing period.

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