Guilford County Schools receives $500,000 grant to make schools safer

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GREENSBORO, N.C. -- School districts in the Piedmont are upping their security tactics and keeping students safe with technology that carries a hefty price tag.

Guilford County Schools received a $500,000 grant from the Department of Justice to make schools safer.

The money is going to pay for a security software that can be accessed on cell phones and computers. If something happens, teachers and staff will be able to quickly react and get in touch with law enforcement.

“Anywhere there’s a computer, tablet, iPhone, Android phone, we can put this technology onto that to complement our other array of technologies and various emergency plans that we have implemented throughout the district,” said Andrew Jaspers, GCS Emergency Management, safety and security director.

Jaspers says the new software is a perfect example of how school security is evolving with the use of technology.

“It just helps us with one more thing. Helps with a little automation to be able to connect and integrate all those pieces of the puzzle for us,” Jaspers said.

Since faculty and staff have a phone on them, they can connect to the system during an emergency and quickly get help. All with a few keystrokes or taps on a screen.

“Better mass notification capabilities and virtual panic buttons throughout the district,” Jaspers said.

Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools are already using similar software.

District staff are able to quickly contact law enforcement or just check the weather.

“It gives us a way to pull up a device and refresh our memories as to what we need to do in case something happens. It gives us, with the touch of a finger, a quick way to dial folks that need to know in the event of an emergency,” said Jonathan Wilson, security director at Winston-Salem/Forsyth County Schools.

Gone are the days of flipping through a safety packet in an emergency. Using software saves time.

“We’re working towards a goal where we have one big system that’s a smart system and keeps us informed,” Wilson said.

“We want to be able to increase that reach of our district so the students, staff and visitors on campus do feel safe when they come to Guilford county school campuses,” Jaspers said.

Guilford County Schools has not chosen which software they’ll be using just yet. Once they do, it will be up and running next school year.

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