Nye County Schools Install Cameras in Classrooms
The Nye County (Nev.) School District has installed an audio enhancement, panic alarm and camera system in its classrooms that not only keeps kids safe and secure, but helps them stay engaged in class lessons.
Shown here is a Nye County elementary school teacher who is wearing one of the system's pendants around her neck. The pendant includes a microphone, which amplifies her voice so students can hear her. It also includes a panic alarm button that she can activate during an emergency. Upon activation of the panic button, the video and audio portions of the system start recording and the school principal and district superintendent are notified. They can then view the video and listen to the audio. They can also stream it to local police should their involvement be required.
When it comes to safety and student academic achievement, school security professionals and administrators can sometimes be at odds. The former can be too focused on security and emergency management while the latter can be too focused on their institution’s educational mission. Although both groups of individuals genuinely believe they are looking out for the best interests of the children in their charge, disagreements often arise, especially when limited resources are at stake.
Fortunately, Nye County (Nev.) schools have discovered a way to improve student engagement in class while also increasing campus safety and security. It’s a solution that combines an audio system that amplifies a teacher’s voice, along with a panic alarm system and security cameras.
To Learn, Students Must Hear Their Teachers
A few years back, Nye County School District Superintendent Dr. William “Rob” Roberts’ goal was to help students improve their academic performance — particularly those who were sitting in the back of the class or were hearing impaired. He wanted to ensure all of the students in each classroom could hear what the teacher was saying — a wise move considering that as much as 80% of what students learn is provided by the teacher’s spoken communications.
Audio enhancement seemed to be the appropriate solution for his district. Indeed, research by Allen & Patton; Gilman & Danzer; and Palmer indicates students are less distractible and more attentive in classrooms that have amplified sound.
Additionally, the system helps teachers manage students who are not behaving appropriately.
Gregory A. Thomas MS, who is managing director for campus safety initiatives for SAFE System Classrooms puts it this way: “When you have a classroom that is out of control, it might be because that back row is acting up and not engaged because they can’t hear. I wish I had when I was in charge of security at New York City schools. Better yet, I wish I had it when I was going to school. Being in the back row meant that when the teacher turned their back, it was party time.”
In light of the data supporting audio enhancement as a means of improving student academic achievement and behavior, the district installed the system, which includes a bolo-tie-type of pendant that hangs around the teacher’s neck. The pendent holds the microphone that amplifies the teacher’s voice.
With the audio enhancement system now in place, Nye County Schools have realized another benefit: reduced teacher fatigue and absenteeism.
“I found that upon installation, the teachers who use it aren’t worn out as much at the end of the day because they can speak in a normal tone of voice,” says Roberts. “They have fewer days that they are sick.”
Cameras, Panic Buttons Augment Audio
With the success of the audio enhancement system, Roberts determined even more success could be achieved if it included cameras and panic alarm buttons.
In August and September 2011, the SAFE System/ViewPath (the video surveillance and panic alarm portion of the system) was installed on six campuses, including every classroom of the district’s new elementary school and high school. SAFE System/ViewPath is also currently being installed as a retrofit in one of the district’s middle schools.
“When a teacher has a crisis, they have a pendent around their neck with a button, and all the teacher has to do is touch it,” Roberts says. “When they activate the button, it activates the camera, recording the entire classroom and sends an alert to the principal’s office. There is a screen that tells you which room the crisis is in.”
Roberts and the school principals can view the video online to determine the circumstances of the emergency and the level of response required. The video can also be streamed to local police laptops and PDAs, providing them with appropriate information on the incident in question. The cameras can be remotely controlled by law enforcement so they can focus on specific areas of the room.
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