WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (CBS12) — Teachers and students in Palm Beach County Schools will soon get an added layer of protection.
Students return to school in Palm Beach County in August for the start of a new school year, and the school district just voted to get panic buttons for teachers when classes start.
"They're a wearable device that all members in the district, including school staff and teachers, have that allows them to immediately call for help and for on-site responders to know their exact location and the need that they have," said Brent Cobb, Centegix CEO. Centegix manufactures and sells the devices.
After the recent deadly shooting spree at a school in Uvalde, Texas, and the 2018 attack at Marjory Stoneman Douglass High School in Parkland, school officials say getting panic buttons is a step in the right direction to try to prevent these attacks and keep kids safe.
"School safety is also, you know, top of mind for all of us and it's always our highest priority here in Palm Beach County," said Mike Burke, Palm Beach County School District Superintendent.
Roxanne Colon, a parent from Lake Worth Beach, has a 4 year old daughter who will be in pre-K in the Palm Beach County Public School system in August. She's glad to hear the school board has voted to get panic buttons for teachers.
"I think it's amazing. It should've been done a long time ago. I'm all for it. No matter how much it costs us. Our kids are our number one priorities," Colon said.
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One teacher we spoke with, a first-grade teacher at Rolling Green Elementary in Boynton Beach, says having a panic button that she can wear wherever she goes in the school will make her feel safer.
"Having the accessibility to just instantly let somebody know that something is wrong is probably going to help in a lot of situations," said Linda Kennedy, a teacher with 24 years of teaching experience.
The head of the firm that makes the panic buttons says with the violence we sometimes see in schools, having panic buttons for teachers can be a smart move.
"Given where we are, we want to give those individuals the best chance for a positive outcome in a very difficult situation," Cobb said.
The Palm Beach County School District declined our request for an on-camera interview and the School Board members did not respond to requests for an interview.
According to documents from the Wednesday night School Board meeting, the School District will spend about $2.1 million for the panic buttons in the first year of a multi-year contract.
Acccording to the head of Centegix, the district will have the panic buttons when school starts in August.