Panic Alert System coming to Kanawha County Schools

Panic Alert System coming to Kanawha County Schools
Published: Aug. 19, 2022 at 7:18 PM EDT
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KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) - Ahead of the start of the school year in Kanawha County, school officials will begin work on a new safety measure to keep students safe in the classroom.

The Board of Education voted unanimously at their meeting Thursday to start the installation of a phone app that would allow teachers to alert schools about potential security threats within a building.

Tonya Holley said her grandson’s safety has always been a high priority for her.

“Generally, I do feel like the kids are pretty safe, especially where my grandson goes to school,” she said Friday. “The school actually is locked, you have to press a buzzer in order to get into the school.”

The Panic Alert System app would put more of her worries to rest.

The system will work through a mobile app that can be added to cell phones and teachers’ tablets to quietly notify security officials in the event of a threat.

The measure was introduced by Kanawha County School’s executive Director of Safety and Security, Keith Vititoe.

He said it is a program five years in the making.

“This is another layer of emergency communication for our employees to be able to alert authorities if there’s something going on if they need law enforcement, fire services, medical services,” he explained. “We’ll be able to at the touch of a button show their location in the building to be able to speed up the time it takes to respond to an incident.”

Vititoe expects it’ll take about three years for all schools in the district to get the app.

According to Vititoe, for the next six to nine months experts will gather all the software and equipment for the app.

The next phase will involve the installation and use of the app in Kanawha middle and high schools.

County elementary schools are expected to be brought in during the following fiscal year.

“I had specifically stated middle and high schools because if we look at probability and the potential for violence we still see that more so at the middle and high school levels,” he said. “We’ll just add another layer of emergency precaution at those grade levels.”

Holley said any efforts put her mind at ease.

“My grandkids are so important to me and it’s important for other children, too,” she said. “With everything that’s been going on today in today’s world, there’s nothing like having some added security.”

While it may take a bit for the app to go live, there are still new security measures in place this school year.

Vititoe said the district is partnering with county emergency officials to provide easy access to school security cameras. He believes it will help law enforcement in real-time in case of an emergency.