Safety app allows school staff to report threats, emergencies

Local News

The Central Square School District will begin training its staff and teachers on how to use a safety app this summer so it can be launched at the beginning of the next school year.

The app is called NaviGate Prepared. In the Google Play app store, it’s listed as “a K-12 school safety app designed to help staff respond safely and effectively during drills and emergencies.”

Central Square School District Tom Colabufo says more than 900 districts nationwide are already using the app, including some other schools in the region.

Colabufo says implementing the new use of a safety app is just one additional measure the district is enforcing. He says the district also plans to add three Special Patrol Officers in a partnership with the Village of Central Square Police Department.

A lockdown typically comes from the principal in the main office, but Colabufo gives the following example about how anything can happen at any time.

“Let’s say there’s an elementary teacher who has students out on the playground and they recognize somebody that could be very suspicious trying to get in the back doors,” Colabufo explained. “That teacher, from her device, can literally, whether it’s a  phone or Chromebook, can go into that building, lock it down and have text capacity to be able to say to people, At the back door, This is what I’m seeing.’ Then, the principal can call 911 and say, ‘This is what’s being reported. You may want to send somebody over.'”

Access to the app will only be given to approved users such as school administrators, teachers and other school staff. NaviGate gives users the ability to implement a lockdown and it also compiles “flipcharts” of what to do during the emergency at hand — a bomb threat, evacuation, active shooter, shelter-in-place, bus accident or a chemical or hazardous materials spill.

Then, app users can account for students by checking them in during an emergency situation and to securely communicate with one another to share updates on the situation.

Colabufo says putting the power to report emergencies and account for students makes teachers proactive rather than waiting around. The app can be used for drills and actual emergencies.

NaviGate is also cost-effective for the Central Square School District, according to Colabufo.

For example, implementing it at the high school will cost about $3,000, but Colabufo says the district will also get a reimbursement from the purchase when buying it through BOCES.

Colabufo says the app will also provide screenshots of current building plans to law enforcement and first responders arriving to the school where the emergency is happening.

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