Irmo High School has added a new communications tool called Anonymous Alerts, allowing students and other individuals to quickly and anonymously report urgent information to school officials.
Used by schools and districts nationwide to help thwart incidents, the Anonymous Alerts app was downloaded on all Irmo High students' district-issued iPad minis in April as a pilot program.
The implementation at the Lexington-Richland District Five school comes amid a bill in the South Carolina statehouse that would require school districts to develop an online system for anonymously reporting acts of bullying, harassment and other issues.
Irmo High is one of the first schools in the state to pilot the online anonymous reporting system.
"Within 24 hours it had some payoffs," said Irmo High School Principal David Riegel. "Our biggest thing is we want to eliminate threats in our school, and if an alert comes through that can help do that, it makes our school safer. We're piloting the app because we didn't want to wait for solutions to be presented to us, we want to find solutions on our own. It's all about keeping our school safe."
The app pilot program was recommended by teachers, Lexington County Sheriff's Department officials and the school's student-led Conflict Avoidance Group then vetted through administrative staff.
Messages can be submitted anonymously to a school administrator or guidance department staff using a Smart phone or computer. Students can also upload or attach a photo directly from their smart phones, iPad and other devices to accompany the text.
All reports remain anonymous, although senders do have the option to include their names during the submission process for a person-to-person discussion. Irmo High School staff said the app is timely and has been well-received by students.
"During the training session that we provided for the students, we mentioned incidents nationwide at schools and brought up the point that some incidents can be avoided if somebody had reported something," said Heather Boudreaux, who helps manage technology integration at the school. "Oftentimes students are the first to know of problems at schools. This tool gives them a way to help keep staff at the school informed."
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