Hoke County Schools gives update on enhanced safety protocols for new school year

The Hoke County Board of Education met Tuesday, August 16.

RAEFORD — The Hoke County Board of Education met Tuesday, August 16, where the board was presented with the updated health and safety protocols for the upcoming school year.

The RAVE smartphone app is the first updated security measure for Hoke County Schools.

According to the Assistant Superintendent of Operations and Information Systems, Dr. Chad Hunt, the app can be used for a range of emergencies from active shooters to allergic reactions by students, fires, and suspicious persons on campus.

“[RAVE] is a smartphone app which provides us with the ability to communicate with law enforcement and first responders in case there is some type of emergency that happens on campus,” Hunt said. “It can also be used by staff members to alert administration that there is something that is taking place on campus. Staff members can not only send those alerts, but they can also receive those alerts to their connected smartphone as long as they are connected via the system with a telephone number and email address.”

The app is designed to increase the response time to a potential emergency, as it alerts not only law enforcement and first responders, but also SROs, school staff, and administration. According to Hunt, it also alerts central office administration.

“This is an added layer of security,” Hunt said. “It’s not an end-all means approach by any means, but it is a layer that we’ve placed into our system to help with the security of our staff and students and any visitors that may be on campus as well.”

Along with the new app, Hoke County Schools also began undergoing school safety wellness checks and active shooter drills with local law enforcement and other local emergency departments. 

A big change coming to HCS, according to Hunt, is that along with all staff being required to wear ID/Name Badges at all times, Grades 6-13 students will be required to keep ones on their persons as well while on campus to ensure that administration and law enforcement can more easily assess those that are and are not supposed to be on campus.

Other changes to school security include the implementation of Aiphone systems for every front entrance at every school, key fobs for keyless entry for all entrances, and that all doors and classrooms will be locked during instructional hours.

Hoke County Schools also will have updated security measures with its bus fleet with the addition of the Here Comes the Bus app, which gives real-time GPS updates on bus locations as well as notifications for when students board and exit buses as they will use their ID cards to scan onto the bus, and the implementation of Pro-Vision bus cameras, which utilizes cloud-based recording to have instant access to bus feeds to improve the time it takes to undergo investigations and discipline for bus matters.

In addition to the new security measures, HCS also gave an update to their COVID-19 policies for the new school year.

Notable Back-to-School Protocols includes providing hand sanitizer in all buildings and buses, conducting daily cleaning and disinfection protocols in all buildings and buses, providing well-fitting masks at all schools and on buses for students, staff, and visitors, offering diagnostic testing and screening testing programs in schools, making home tests available while supplies last, continuing case investigation and contact tracing for early identification of cases, maintaining a safe room in all schools, maintaining a COVID-19 data tracker and district dashboard, providing enhanced protection supplies if requested, and providing isolation information to parents.

According to Executive Director of Student Support Services Dr. Peggy Owens, for this school year, students and staff that test positive will have to stay home and isolate for at least five days and may return after the initial five days if they are no longer symptomatic. Quarantine is also no longer recommended for those that are exposed, and it is instead recommended that they wear a mask for ten days after and get tested.

The Hoke County Board of Education will next meet September 13.