Catherine Gagulashvili copy editor
The 2017-2018 school year’s heavy focus on increasing security at schools across the country was due in part to the various school shootings which occurred that year. Beverly, too, implemented several security features in the last year and is continuing to heighten the safety features on campus by introducing two new security features: the Raptor Technologies School Safety Program and the Share911 app. Last year’s additions, which included closing off the campus with a fence around the perimeter; enforcing stricter security at the entrances and exits; and hiring more security officers, armed guards and police on campus will continue to be enforced this year.
Director of School Safety Chris Hertz, alongside the administration, has been working to implement new safety features, the most recent being the Share911 app. The app, which he dubbed as a “Facebook for emergencies,” is an app through which teachers and administrators can communicate if an emergency was to present itself. Teachers participated in training to learn how the app works on Wednesday, Aug. 29, followed by a drill on Thursday, Aug. 30 to test the app.
“I can say that a good momentum has started at the high school. Staff are finding success and setting up accounts [on the app]. Mr. Mead was able to monitor the drill and was able to communicate during the drill. It took him only a few minutes to ascertain that the whole school was properly locked down. He was able to use Share911 in the drill simultaneously for everybody,” Hertz said.
The app doesn’t eliminate the need to call 911 in case of an emergency, nor does the app eliminate the need to present a green, yellow or red card under a door, signifying a classroom is okay, in need of some assistance or in need of immediate assistance, respectively. It does, however, help all staff communicate and affirm the whereabouts of all students and employees.
“We believe that the most powerful tool you can give your employees is the ability to alert their co-workers when they see danger in their workplace. We’ve empowered co-workers to instantly notify each other, in just seconds, from wherever they are, inside or outside of their building,” CEO of Share911 Erik D. Endress said in Share911’s “About Us” page.
Another safety feature soon to be implemented on the high school campus is the Raptor Technologies School Safety Program. The program, which identifies and does a background check on visitors attempting to enter the campus based on their IDs, should be enforced on the campus by October. Hertz has affirmed that Raptor has already been implemented on the Beverly Vista Elementary campus and is working well.
“I agree with almost every single safety regulation that the school has implemented. I think [having Raptor] sounds like a great idea in theory; it will be interesting to see if it works. I believe we should perhaps add ID scanners for students, [in addition to the badges staff and visitors will have],” Co-President of the Student Social Justice Club junior Penelope LaPaglia said.
LaPaglia’s club was formed in response to the Parkland shooting in February, and they organized the March 14 school walkout. Her club has pushed for stricter gun laws, as well as pushing for stricter security by walking out and making the administration know they didn’t feel safe on campus.
“I think that the most important reason to have these security features in place is to know who is on campus at all times,” LaPaglia said. “[Stricter security] will keep [the students and staff] inside safe.”