ROCKINGHAM COUNTY -- County school leaders are moving forward with plans to upgrade school safety and smartphones may be a big part of those plans.
On Wednesday at a school safety task force meeting for Rockingham County, a big focus was how to get important information to parents.
Oskar Scheikls, the director if information management, said the current system has some limitations.
"It's housed in our building, so if our building goes dark, with no electricity, no notifications go out, " said Scheikl.
Another challenge is calling parents. The current system doesn't allow that to happen, so now, school leaders say, it's time for an upgrade.
"We will actually begin a trial of a new notification system in the next two weeks."
A company is offering Rockingham County Schools a free trial for the rest of the school year. Under this new system, parents and students will get emails, texts or calls about school-wide announcements, district announcements or even alerts about a specific class or bus route.
"So if a bus is late or there is a bus incident, we will be able to notify just those parents."
Another topic of discussion was safety in schools.
Steven Reid, director of maintenance, is getting seven schools outfitted with new entrances, but those are just the main buildings. Mobile buildings are the next concern.
"The fix for that is, of course, to have buildings that would be able to have all the classrooms inside and that's something this group, along with the board of supervisors, needs to start investigating the feasibility of doing that," said Reid.
The task force is looking ahead at other items, like training school staff once all the building improvements are made and installing specialized, emergency radios for school buses.
The task force's next meeting will be February 20th.
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