New app aims to make city schools safer

Jasper High teachers receive crisis app training


Jasper City School teachers can now get help much faster thanks to a new app called CrisisGo.

While the app was first launched by the school system in January of this year, teachers at Jasper High School attended a formal training class on Wednesday in the school's computer lab.

Butch Sargent, director of operations for Jasper City Schools, led the class which, among other things, showed faculty the differences between "panic" and "alert" within the app.

"An alert is an actual emergency where, depending on what the emergency is, it could be escalated to emergency personel without us having to do anything (more)," Sargent said. "A panic is something is going wrong in the classroom, maybe somebody passed out and needs help. It's going to alert administration to get there. A panic is not a full blown 'everybody needs to take action' emergency."

Sargent said that the panic feature can be used anywhere that school events are having, including athletic events and off-campus field trips. Faculty will be able to immediately call for help if needed.

CrisisGo, which will be installed on all school employees' mobile devices and computers across the school, will send a school-wide audible alarm to every device in the event of an alert. Sargent initiated a test scenario at the end of the class by simulating an active shooter event.

Upon sending the alert, the room filled with alarms as every phone with the app began notifying faculty of the simulated situation. E911 services, which had been informed of the test beforehand, almost immediately responded by stating they had received the alert. Every teacher in the test group then had to check in, letting the administrator know they were safe.

Following the test, a school-wide "all clear" alert sounded, ending the simulated emergency.

Students and parents will likewise have limited access to the app with the ability to send anonymous reports. Incidents such as bullying and suspected violence can be submitted to school administrators. Parents can also use the app to receive updates in the event of an emergency.

"The parents can ask to be a member. We will take their credentials to make sure who we are giving permission to and they will simply ask to be a member of the group," Sargent said.

But parents will not receive the same alerts as faculty, nor will parents be able communicate to the school during an event.

"It's a one-way communication and they can't message back," he said. "We can tell them it's an emergency, to stay away from the school and everybody is safe and accounted for.

"After the emergency is over we will tell them it is safe for them to come pick up their kids. "

To get parental access to the app, Sargent said parents can contact their local school to get a username set up.