In the era of increased school threats, the push to help keep Missouri schools safe will soon involve the push of an SOS button. Missouri is offering a mobile panic button app to the state’s public schools to rapidly alert staff and 911 when there is an emergency.

SECURE could be pressed to alert the school to keep students and staff inside when a nearby gas station is robbed and a suspect is on the loose, for instance.

LOCKDOWN could be tapped when there’s an active shooter in the school.

EVACUATE could be deployed during a fire, for instance.

SHELTER is for incidents like a tornado or earthquake.

HOLD could be used to hold students in a classroom.

The app also helps with emergency drill management and a “team assist” function for localized incidents that do not need outside help.

Mike O’Connell, Missouri Department of Public Safety spokesman, said the app could be used on a cell phone or computer. It provides information, such as location-based information and school campus maps, to first responders, law enforcement, and campus personnel – within seconds.

“The whole purpose is another tool for safety in our schools,” he said. “And what this is, is a silent mobile app that a teacher, or an administrator, or whoever the school picks, can utilize, hit that alert when there’s an incident. You know, our schools are very important. They’re our greatest resource – the children in that school, the teachers. We want to protect them. And so, this is another tool that we can utilize for that purpose.”

O’Connell said there’s been plenty of interest already.

“In the first six days, we’ve already had 71 different school districts register to start this process,” said O’Connell. “Those districts have 523 schools combined, so we’re off to a very good start.”

Missouri has 519 public school districts and 37 charter schools. The schools combined have nearly 2,400 school buildings in Missouri.

The state’s cost to provide the app is about $1 million annually.

O’Connell recommends that schools sign up by June 30. To sign up, click here.

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