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After-school safety is a great concern for parents whose children’s way home are not in their control. With the abundance of news stories involving violence, bullying, and even school shootings, it is of upmost importance for parents to know their children are safe going home. Today, there are apps and other bold ideas that help create and maintain a safe school dismissal system, allowing both parents and the school to have peace of mind as kids go home.

Student Safety Is Number One

No matter the situation, student safety is the number one priority for all schools. This is not just during dire situations, but all the time, including when children are already dismissed from their classes. Most schools experience a dismissal “rush hour” that can get quite chaotic, and may even involve school-related traffic that may pose a threat especially for students. This is most especially true for school children in the kindergarten and elementary school levels – as such, they need to receive better safety and precaution.

It’s not that schools have not taken steps toward safer premises. They have. In fact, according to the National Center for Education Statistics, 93% of public schools reported controlled access to school buildings in the school year 2013 to 2014. As many as 89.2% of high schools, 83.7% of middle schools, and 67.2% of primary schools had security cameras that monitor the school. However, what about the time that occurs when the children going home from school?

According to data from the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) School Emergency Preparedness Survey Report in 2007, there are a number of hazards that may affect a school campus, but survey respondents felt and believed a lot of these were events people were not really prepared to handle, including terrorism threats and public health risks like epidemics. It affects not only the school but also its surrounding areas within the community. Although the schools themselves often take steps toward safety, parents often worry what may happen to their children once the step outside of school grounds with minimal to zero adult supervision.

According to a study titled “After-School Worries: Tough on Parents, Bad for Business,” a significant number of working parents often get extremely worried about their children and what they do during the hours after school while the parents are still at work. The authors, Karen Gareis, Ph.D. and Rosalind Barnett, Ph.D., dubbed this worry as “Parental Concern about After-School Time” (PCAST).

They found that parents with higher PCAST risk are those who have unsupervised children, and they are also left quite concerned about their children’s social and behavioral issues. The authors however, found that positive after-school environments may help these, including helping them feel safe. Such an example is when a study at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, College of Social Work, Office of Research and Public Service evaluated and found that 9 of 10 students believe they feel somewhat safer due to attending their afterschool program.

Tech Involvement

With the information revolution at its peak, it comes as no surprise that there are technological advances in the United States and all over the world that try to address the after-school and dismissal safety issue. Apps like PikMyKid and School-Pass are working in the US, while School Dismissal Manager also covers Canada and Mexico. These types of apps help give parents peace of mind while they are made aware of their children’s whereabouts including who will pick them up and where.

According to Pat Bhava, Founder and CEO of Pikmykid, “We are the most comprehensive school system and no other vendor addresses the safety situation in the same way we do or with our affordability. I built this solution from the ground up by addressing the actual problems facing schools.”

It’s not just pickups and drop-offs that are important, too. PikMyKid, for example, has solutions for everybody – parents, teachers, administrators, and even the school districts. Their system is not just one app, as there are school portals and district dashboards which connect everybody involved, helping create a safe environment not just in school but during dismissal as well. This way, parents have peace of mind regarding their children’s safety, while staff like teachers and the admin can help manage what happens to their students after the final bell rings. In addition, school districts can help control and send out emergency notifications as needed, and even view live footage of dismissals at schools connected to them.

Bhava further added, “Our system is designed to not require any additional hardware and will leverage whatever exists in schools. It is totally plug and play. It can be set up in under a week as long as the school has WiFi.”

There are already a number of schools who use the PikMyKid system, including Berkeley Preparatory School, Hillsborough Academy of Math and Science, and Charter Schools USA, Denver Language School, Fullton Academy of Science and Technology, among many others. Case studies have proven time and again how systems like PikMyKid can help create Bold Impacts to its users.

What started as a solution for the school dismissal conundrum in various schools across the country, PikMyKid rolled out in as many as 27 states as well as five other countries outside the US. With this, the company realized that school dismissal is not the only issue – but rather, student safety as mentioned above. PikMyKid’s current form, along with its sister product Kid.io, is now a comprehensive “School Safety Platform” addressing many school safety aspects such as:

The University of Tampa’s Sykes College of Business recently conducted an impact study and found many positive results. About 81% of participants experienced reduced traffic congestion, and 75% saw their dismissal speed improve. An overwhelming 78% claim an improvement in safety at their school, with 47% seeing significant improvement, although 75% would like some sort of alert system for campus safety implemented.

Other campuses who used PikMyKid such as Swift School have nothing but praise, saying such after-school safety technologies enhanced the school. Carnegie Mellon University’s Heinz College helped prove that student data privacy is safe – PikMyKid limits data collection only to what is relative, and that their app’s tech model considered privacy with utmost importance, proving their clear commitment to not just safety in dismissal but also the confidentiality of the information collected as well.

With federal and state-level requirements already in place, it should be noted that educational technologies including after-school and dismissal apps like PikMyKid should prioritize student data protections, keeping not just the students safe, but their information too.