KC takes safety steps

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MILL HALL — The Keystone Central School District is taking steps to improve safety and security throughout its buildings with a new device.

The HALO Smart Sensor was presented at KCSD’s work session on Thursday night. The device provides an added layer of security for students by monitoring what happens in school restrooms without invading privacy. The HALO Smart Sensor provides security by informing particular staff members when it is triggered, helping to monitor abnormal activity in restrooms that might give rise to a dangerous situation before it happens.

Reports of violence and poor conduct among some CMHS students were brought to the attention of the KCSD School Board in February, prompting board president David Dietrich to convene a special school safety and security meeting back in March.

The meeting was open to the public following a violent incident involving two minor students in one of the high school’s bathrooms, which drew the attention of many parents and members of the community. In an effort to combat the ongoing issue of inappropriate behavior among students, board members heard ideas and concerns from parents, students and community members during the meeting.

Since then, school board members have investigated different options, which lead to the implementation of two HALO Smart Sensor 3C devices to assist in the prevention of future safety and security issues.

The board is currently utilizing the sensors as part of a pilot program and is proposing that 50 additional sensors be installed in 27 bathrooms across three school buildings within the district: Central Mountain High School, Central Mountain Middle School, and Bucktail High/Middle School. In addition, the board also recommends additional security cameras be installed, which would enhance security outside of restrooms where there are blind spots within the buildings. The HALO Smart Sensors have been active since students returned after spring break in April.

HALO Sensors do not invade students’ privacy because they do not employ cameras, record audio, or capture any personally identifiable information, making them an ideal solution for use in private areas such as restrooms and other common spaces where safety is a concern.

HALO Smart Sensor devices use motion detection to identify and warn school officials to monitor occupancy in restrooms, where several safety issues have occurred recently. The device can monitor occupancy and inform school officials if an unusually large group of students gather in one of the restrooms.

“I want to call these ‘smart sensors’ because they do more than just one function; they’re capable of providing multiple functions for safety and security,” said district Superintendant Dr. Jacquelyn Martin. “They detect occupancy count for any type of small area such as restrooms. They also detect vaping, and can differentiate between vaping, an illegal substance versus a legal substance.”

In addition to motion and vaping, Martin explained other features HALO Sensors are capable of detecting, some of which include:

— Violent Behavior

— Loud noises

— Spoken “emergency keywords” that indicate a dangerous situation (i.e., using the word “help,” which would trigger an alert to staff members)

— Gunshots

— Abnormal amount of students occupying the restroom at one time

The sensor is nearly identical to a household smoke detector in appearance, and its design includes a “halo” of LED-colored lights that can be programmed to show escape routes if there is a safety issue.

The lights project onto the ceiling for extended visibility in an emergency and can be customized to alert students to specific safety concerns. In addition, if a student witnesses a safety or security threat, they can press the “panic button” located on the device to alert school officials.

HALO devices are capable of monitoring other student safety concerns as well, such as the presence of carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, nitrogen dioxide, abnormal temperatures, and the presence of chemicals, to name a few.

Safety features of the device include monitoring of violent behavior, gunshots, motion inside the restroom, the number of occupants, spoken keywords such as “help,” and it is even

To deter illicit behavior, the device is capable of issuing an alert to school officials if it is tampered with, and it also detects vaping in restrooms; it can distinguish between a tobacco product and a THC product when vaped within the vicinity. Even attempts to mask the use of a vape can be detected by a HALO Smart Sensor.

The total to install more HALO sensors and additional cameras for use in blind spots outside of restrooms would cost $251,176.80, which would be paid for through Capital Funds which the district already has available to cover the expense, Martin said.