Three things to know about school safety as fall semester begins

Back to school safety
Published: Aug. 22, 2023 at 5:20 PM CDT|Updated: Aug. 22, 2023 at 10:25 PM CDT
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JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (KFVS) - The Missouri Department of Public Safety issued an advisory on Friday, alerting parents and families of school-age children about key school safety programs aimed at prevention and response to school-based threats.

Here are three things the DPS wants Missourians to know about amid the back-to-school rush:

1) Many schools use mobile emergency alert apps

In May, Missouri school districts began using a mobile emergency alert app, which streamlines the response of an emergency situation, from communicating with first responders, to sharing information with parents, to coordinating pick-ups and more.

DPS said 143 Missouri school districts and charter schools are using the app made available by the state, and many other use their own, independently vended app.

“Utilizing technology that schools already have in place, the app expedites and streamlines an emergency response by allowing teachers and other school staff to quickly initiate an alert through their mobile device or computer,” the memo said. “The silent alert works directly with 911 to provide critical information, such as the location within a school that the app was activated and school campus maps, to first responders, law enforcement, and campus personnel within seconds.”

The app also lets districts manage their ongoing safety drills much easier.

2) “ALERRT” & Active Shooter Response Training

At the beginning of 2023, The Missouri Department of Public Safety worked with Missouri State University and used funding from the U.S. Department of Justice to offer free active shooter training sessions to law enforcement agencies.

For state troopers, the patrol requires all new recruits undergo at least 12 hours of active threat response training. That’s followed up by a required active threat response course of at least four hours each year.

3) Courage2Report School Safety Hotline

The MSHP’s Courage2Report hotline is a conduit for students to submit anonymous tips about anything suspicious or dangerous.

“The MSHP’s Courage2Report received more than 1,350 tips about school safety concerns from Aug. 1, 2022 to July 31, 2023,” the department advisory said. “Courage2Report provides a safe and confidential way for students to report concerns, including about assaults, bullying/repeated harassment, cyber bullying and guns.”

Tips can be submitted by calling 866-748-7047, texting C2R to 738477, through the Courage2Report mobile app, or online here.

The hotline is staffed 24/7, according to the MSHP.