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Oklahoma schools to implement safety apps, if not already in use

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Posted at 5:40 PM, Jul 19, 2022
and last updated 2022-07-21 16:05:45-04

BROKEN ARROW, Okla. — As schools focus more on safety following the Uvalde, Texas school shooting, we’re learning more about an app Gov. Kevin Stitt wants all Oklahoma schools to use.

In an executive order, Stitt called on all public schools to implement the Rave Panic Button app. Starting Sept. 1, public schools will be required to use the Rave app, but some districts like Broken Arrow are already using it.

“In any type of emergency communication is key,” said Derek Blackburn the student services executive director for Broken Arrow Public Schools.

Blackburn says the Rave app allows a staff member to call 911 and send a text to fellow staff members about an emergency all with the push and hold of a button.

“It's just a faster way to communicate in a threatening scenario like what we’ve seen in Texas," Blackburn said. "The faster you can communicate to your staff, the better you can mitigate the issue and get the appropriate people there to respond.”

He says the app is geared toward teachers and has a geofence so it is only used on campus.

They have been using the app for 5 years slowly rolling it out to each school. Blackburn says last year it came in handy for a medical emergency.

“The teacher used the Rave Panic Button, pushed the notification to call 911 that communication then also went out to administrators and our site nurse," he said. "So we already had EMSA or Broken Arrow Fire Department on their way while administrators and the nurse were coming to the aid of this individual.”

Sand Springs Public Schools will be implementing the Rave app this school year, though they have been using a similar app known as STOPit for several years.

“The basic premise is it allows students and parents to report irregularities," said Sherry Durkee the Sand Springs Public Schools Superintendent. "So things that they see that maybe look strange or if they have a problem with a bully at school and they can do it reporting anonymously or they can let you know who they are.”

Durkee says the STOPit app is more about preventing a tragedy. She explains that STOPit can be used by anyone, not just staff.

“Rave is really about the immediacy of a crisis that’s impending versus preventative in that we hear of a potential threat that we can stop ahead of time. So I do think they complement each other,” She said.

Durkee says they will keep STOPit and implement the Rave app this year.

Both Blackburn and Durkee agree that communication is key and districts should use whatever will work for their students’ needs.

These apps do require smartphones. Blackburn says if a staff member doesn’t have a smartphone, they will still receive the texts when an emergency is reported. They just can’t report one unless they’re with someone who has a smartphone with the app.

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