September 24, 2021
The start of a new school year is already here. Safety is always a top priority for school districts across the country. With the Coronavirus pandemic still in full swing, schools need communication to be more efficient than ever.
Midland Radio is working with School Specialty LLC to make sure two-way radios are part of schools' communication and safety plan.
We caught up with one of School Speciality's Business Development Managers, Joe Wilson, to discuss how two-way radios are vital to school safety.
School Specialty is primarily a K-12 education space full service provider. From crayons to curriculum to comprehensive learning environments, School Speciality offers over 100,000 products thoughtfully designed to work together to elevate outcomes and transform not just schools, but students themselves. School safety is one of the 15 or so categories School Specialty provides products for.
Safety is arguably the most important factors a school must consider. Wilson says, "without safety, there really can't be learning."
"It has been proven that when a person or child does not feel safe; they cannot realistically concentrate. This means they cannot effectively learn new materials. Schools are responsible for keeping our most precious commodity, our children, safe. Our children must feel and be safe. We owe that to them," Wilson continues.
It's important schools are prepared to protect students in case of natural disasters, intruders, chemical spills, and health crises.
Communication is central to make sure students, faculty, and staff are safe when at school. Wilson said when there is a failure in communication, the results could be a catastrophic domino effect.
"If we cannot communicate an important message or critical piece of information to the recipient who is relying on that piece of information in order to make an informed decision, a cascade of failures may be the result. Think: intruder description, weapon type, direction, what was said, apparent intent, or damage already done," Wilson said.
Two-way radios are a quick, efficient, and reliable way for staff and faculty to communicate throughout the school day.
"Schools really should have a radio in each classroom and on the hip of every administrator. Radios provide a quick and easy way to have a conversation with a co-teacher, administrator, SRO, nurse; a way to communicate a need for increased security, while improving efficiency," Wilson said.
Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, two-way radios have also made it easier for schools to maintain pandemic protocol, such as social distancing. With a radio, teachers can call the necessary staff to their classroom, organize drop off and pick up, facilitate foot traffic patterns in hallways, navigate lunch, etc. With the Delta variant, many schools plan to keep at least some of these protocols in place this coming year.
Many schools lack a strong cell phone signal inside their buildings. With Wilson's previous experience as a police commander, he knows schools should not rely on cell phone technology in any emergency.
"Cellular towers may become overwhelmed and in natural disaster potentially damaged or compromised. Our first responders continue to rely on two-way radio communications for that very reason, shouldn’t our school as well?"
Severe weather can happen anytime and can continuously evolve. Midland Radio and SSI encourage all schools to have a NOAA Weather Radio in the front office. Many of Midland's handheld two-way radios also have NOAA Weather Alert and Weather Scan technology built in.
Midland's WR120 NOAA Weather Alert Radio features S.A.M.E. EZ programming and alerts for over 60 kinds of weather hazards and emergencies. When the National Weather Service issues a watch or warning, the WR120 will automatically alert you.
"It will alert you to when a dangerous storm or other civil emergency is coming your way so you can get students off the field and to a safe place until the danger passes. Also, Your local emergency manager has access to this system and can also send out alerts very specific to events in the area of the school," said Wilson.
School Specialty offers Grant Assist® to help schools find the funding they need, through grants and other programs. Currently, in the state of Maryland there is a School Safety Grant that specifically calls out funding for two-way radios, among other safety solutions. The Maryland Safe Schools Fund Grant may award up to $25,000 to each recipient that applies.
Wilson said Midland Radio's two-way radios and NOAA weather radios are simple and dependable.
"Easy to use - Simple is king. No special training required, just “push and talk”. (They don't include features you will most likely NEVER use. They’re dependable - Backed by a 2 year limited warranty."
He also credit's Midland's affordability.
"Midland can fill the need with high value products that aren't expensive. They're affordable -usually less than half the cost of other radios."