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RFID Empowers Teachers and Protects Students

WIU Crossroads School adopted a security system than can summon help quickly when conflict situations arise.
By Todd Wasserman
Apr 26, 2015

The mission of the two-year-old WIU (Westmoreland Intermediate Unit) Crossroads School, in Greensburg, Penn., is to provide a supportive learning environment for students in grades six through 12, who have exhibited emotional and behavioral issues, including a disregard of authority and habitual truancy. Students are usually sent to WIU Crossroads for 45 days for violating the state's Safe Schools Act, such as carrying guns or knives or using drugs.

Crossroads employs eight teachers and 10 additional staff members for approximately 77 students. While classroom disruptions are not a regular occurrence, it is essential to provide timely assistance to prevent a bullying or violent event from escalating.

All personnel are equipped with RFID pendants that they can either clip to a belt or some other article of clothing, or keep in a pocket.
The school's infrastructure was "in need of improvement" in terms of communicating emergency incidents, says Principal Nicholas Falcon. Teachers were required to call the main office via their the phones in their classrooms whenever an emergency arose. "It was contingent on the teacher being able to access their classroom telephone," Falcon says.

Falcon and Dom Demangone, a supervisor at Westmoreland Intermediate Unit 7, which oversees Crossroads, believed a better security system would ease concerns of teachers, students and parents, as well as create an environment more conducive to learning.

In December 2014, Crossroads deployed an RFID-based real-time location system known as Help Alert, provided by RF Technologies. All teachers and staff members are equipped with RFID pendants, which they can either clip to a belt or some other article of clothing or keep in a pocket. The pendant has a button that can be pressed to summon help in the event of an emergency.

"The new system makes communication of an emergency easier in times of crisis," Falcon says. "In some conflict situations within the classroom, teachers needed to de-escalate students before they could call the office. This affords teachers the ability to request help immediately."

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