New silent panic button built into badges for teachers in St. Johns County

ST. JOHNS COUNTY, Fla. — Wednesday, kids in St. Johns County, the fastest growing county in Florida, were back in the classroom. Starting this year, there’s a new tool teachers and faculty can use to protect themselves and their students.

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Every single teacher and faculty member now has a panic button right on their badge to make sure it’s easy to reach in seconds. It’s a brand new feature that rolled out Wednesday to keep everyone safe as the new school year gets underway.

“I kinda love the first day of school,” said St. Augustine High School senior Paige Wilson. “I feel like I’ve been working so hard for this moment.”

Wilson also mentioned she can’t wait to bond with her teachers.

“Teachers are probably the people next to my parents that have had such a big impact in my life,” she said.

“We want to show a lot of love for our teachers,” added St. Augustine High School Principal Dearmas Graham.

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To empower teachers and faculty members to protect themselves and those around them, the district has provided a new safety tool: the Centegix CrisisAlert badge.

“They can call for assistance or lock down the school,” Graham explained. “If you push this button three times, it calls for assistance. Push it more, eight times, it locks down the school.”

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Silent panic alarms are required inside public and charter schools under Florida’s Alyssa’s law, named after 14-year-old Alyssa Alhadeff, one of the 17 people killed by a gunman at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School back in 2018. This alarm sends a notification to everyone on campus and the local 911 dispatch center that something’s wrong.

“[We] really make sure our faculty and our students are safe,” Graham emphasized.

All are part of the measures to make sure everyone can cherish this time together.

“I’m really happy to be here and see everyone,” Wilson said with a smile. “I’m ready for a great year.”

These added safety measures are even more important because the district is welcoming more students than before. According to Graham, at St. Augustine High School, enrollment has gone from about 1,650 students last year, to about 1,800 students this year.

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