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Duval County school district working to implement panic button system

‘Alyssa’s Law’ requires schools in Florida to have mobile panic buttons installed that directly link to first responders

‘Alyssa’s Law’ requires schools in Florida to have mobile panic buttons installed that directly link to first responders.

A law requires each public school in Florida to be equipped with a panic alert system starting in the 2021-2022 academic year.

On Monday, Duval County Public Schools Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene announced the school district is implementing “Alyssa’s Law,” which is named after Alyssa Alhadeff, a student who was among 17 people killed in the February 2018 mass shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland. The purpose is to decrease the amount of time it takes for first responders to arrive in an emergency situation.

“We are actually implementing ‘Alyssa’s Law’ as we speak. Just did a survey with our teachers,” Greene said. “We will be using an app that will either be on a personal phone or a phone that is given to them by the district.”

The Duval County school district’s panic buttons will be used through an app.

By using an app on their phones, teachers won’t have to worry about giving information to 911, especially if they’re in a situation where they have to be quiet.

Lissett Rivera’s children attend Duval County schools. Rivera feels “Alyssa’s Law” is necessary.

“It’s a great idea to keep the kids safe. In that moment, everything is going down so quick,” Rivera said. “It may be a text that saves the day, hopefully.”

“Alyssa’s Law” requires public and charter schools in the state to have mobile panic buttons installed that directly link to first responders.

“‘Alyssa’s Law’ is critical to saving lives because that immediate notification to law enforcement. The quicker law enforcement can get on scene, the quicker they can stop the killer, the quicker we can stop the dying,” said Max Schachter, whose son, Alex, was in the same classroom as Alhadeff and was also killed.

Schacter has also created a safe schools system through an online dashboard. It allows parents to search their school to see how many incidents of fighting, bullying and sexual assault have been reported at the school. He said it is to help prevent mass shootings from happening in the future.

Rivera said she is for anything that could keep her children safe at school.

“It’s super scary. You send them to school hoping they get back in one piece,” Rivera said. “But a lot of the time, you don’t know what will happen.”

News4Jax has reached out to DCPS for more details about the app, and a DCPS spokesperson sent News4Jax the following information:

  • Alyssa’s Law requires that all Florida public schools, including charters, be outfitted with mobile panic alert systems by the start of the 2021-2022 school year.
  • To make sure that we can comply with this law, the district is implementing a plan to use a mobile application as an emergency alert system.
  • The district has selected Raptor’s Emergency Management Alert system. This mobile app allows you to initiate an emergency with a silent alert from a mobile device while at school.
  • It instantly notifies first responders or requests assistance from school-based administrators based on the situation. Users can connect with 9-1-1 directly from the app;
  • The app also allows the user to signal for team assistance from school-based staff in the event of a crisis situation such as a fight in progress, medical issue, or suspicious activity. It provides the user’s precise location.
  • School-based employees can either use the app on a district-issued device or install the app on their personal phone. Whatever the method, the device must be maintained within close proximity of the employee while on any school campus, and recharged daily.
  • All school-based staff will be equipped to signal an emergency when schools open in August.

News4Jax also asked DCPS about how much the system will cost, and the DCPS spokesperson said they will follow up when they have that information.

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report.