How K12 Smartphone Bans Impact Mass Notification and School Safety

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Overcome K12 Smartphone Ban Safety Challenges

The debate on smartphones’ place in the classroom continues to be a hot button topic in K12 education. Some see smartphones as a tool that can be used to engage students with learning, but some schools are looking to minimize distractions by having smartphones banned from classrooms. In California for example, CBS 13 in Sacramento reports that new legislation “asks all school districts, county offices of education, and charter schools to come up with smartphone policies to limit or prohibit student use at school.” While there are certain allowances for emergencies, health reasons and instruction, these limits can also impact student safety.

With students forced to keep smartphones out of sight and on silent, schools and districts that rely on mass SMS text messaging to deliver emergency notifications are putting students at a severe disadvantage when it comes to sharing critical safety information. Schools need to leverage alternate means for distributing messages to ensure everyone is aware of a situation taking place so they can stay out of harm’s way. In this blog post, we’ll cover how schools and districts that leverage a combined mobile and on-premises strategy for mass notification during emergencies can overcome safety challenges presented by K12 smartphone bans.

A Complete Mass Notification Solution

Mobile notifications can be effective, but in schools and classrooms with restrictive smartphone policies, there needs to be an alternate method for providing alerts about emergencies. This is where many mass notification offerings fail. They see mass SMS text messages as an end-all-be-all for emergency notification. But the truth is, no organization, K12 or otherwise, should rely on one mode of communication when it comes to emergency notification.

K12 institutions need to be leveraging as many channels and message formats as possible to ensure students and staff are informed during a crisis. Using audio, visual and text alerts can all help interrupt ongoing activities and capture people’s attention in ways mobile alerts cannot, ensuring better message reach

Discover the power of building a mass notification ecosystem

Live Audio

Leveraging live audio during an emergency can help provide real-time information via devices that already exist as part of a school’s infrastructure. Overhead paging, IP speakers, and IP phones that are tied to a mass notification system can be used to deliver audio broadcasts that alert people that an emergency is taking place. This offers an immediate, attention-grabbing interruption to ongoing activities. These devices also provide a wide reach throughout a school building or campus which reduces the likelihood that anyone misses a message.

For schools that are enforcing a smartphone ban or put limitations on how students can access smartphones during school hours, this eliminates most concerns about the best way to reach people during an emergency. Clear, concise messages can help minimize confusion and quickly provide updates and instructions about what’s happening and what actions people should take.

Read more about the benefits of intrusive audio

Visual Alerting, Digital Displays, and Desktop Notification

In addition to audio, visual resources connected to a mass notification system can help communicate information about emergency situations. While students may not be using smartphones in class, they or their instructors may be using a computer for instruction. Desktop notifications that pop up over applications can help alert people that a crisis is taking place.

Lights that change color or flash when a notification is sent out can also provide visual assistance to indicate an emergency event is taking place, and digital displays can provide text that explains the situation. This is helpful for students, staff or visitors that might be hearing impaired.

When in doubt, use both

As we mentioned at the beginning of this post, the best option is to use as many channels as possible to help communicate a message. A combined mobile and on-premises strategy will help reach students and staff wherever they are. InformaCast Fusion from Singlewire Software delivers a unified platform for mass notification that can launch alerts to mobile phones, IP speakers, IP phones, digital signage, desktop computers and more with the single push of a button.

Learn more about deploying InformaCast in K12 environments

 

 

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