A student at Skyview High School in Nampa, Idaho, was acting unruly. His teacher suspected he might have been drinking. Faced with such a disciplinary problem in the past, she would have had to leave the classroom to call for assistance from another teacher or security. Instead, she pressed a button on a tag worn around her neck.
In minutes, four administrators, two security officers and Brad Ford, Skyview's school resource officer (a police officer charged with protecting the school) converged on the classroom. "Seven people showed up here just because the teacher needed help?" the astonished student asked.
A year ago, Skyview High School, which has roughly 1,300 students, deployed an RFID safety solution from Ekahau. All 130 teachers and school administrators wear Ekahau B4 tags on lanyards, which they can use to signal for help not only with a disciplinary problem but a medical emergency, or to issue a security alert and implement a lockdown.
"Violence in schools is not going away," Ford says. "We need to change our tactics and empower teachers." One concern with standard lockdown procedures is that teachers are expected to take many steps in rapid succession. "You need to get the kids in lockdown, shut the door, turn the lights off, call 911 and tell them what's going on," he says. "It's too much, I think."
Thinking Outside the Box
The project began when Ford was discussing school safety with the school's guidance counselor, Mandy Petty, and her husband. In the wake of the 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary school in Connecticut, they wondered if there were measures they could take, beyond the usual lockdown drills, to keep students safe.
That conversation led to a lot of research. Many schools were putting panic buttons on walls or desks, but that didn't seem to be an ideal solution. What if, in an emergency, a teacher were unable to reach the button? "Let's allow [teachers] an item that gives them better access," Ford says.
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