AUSTIN – As the new school year nears, the Texas Department of Public Safety (DPS) reminds drivers to use extra caution in and around school zones and neighborhoods. This includes knowing the Texas laws about driving near stopped school buses and not using cell phones when you’re behind the wheel. It also means utilizing the many safety resources available to parents, school staff and students.
“Heading back to school is such an exciting time and we all need to work together to ensure everyone stays safe,” said DPS Director Steven McCraw. “Please, be cautious and do your part by talking to your kids about safety, reporting suspicious activity and by following traffic laws in and around school zones.”
DPS offers these tips for back to school safety:
DPS would also like to remind students, parents, teachers and school administrators about some other safety tools available during the school year.
The iWatchTexas program is a critical resource for reporting suspicious activity in schools and communities in order to help prevent dangerous attacks. Everyone is urged to download the free iOS or Android mobile app prior to the start of the school year. Tips can be reported via the website, the mobile app or by calling 844-643-2251. All reports are confidential. For information on how to use iWatchTexas, you can view this how-to video.
Remember, iWatchTexas is not for emergencies. If there is an emergency on a school campus or in a community, call 911 immediately. Also, the program can be used to report suspicious activity in areas other than schools.
The Texas School Safety Center is another useful tool for school security. It’s part of Texas State University and offers valuable resources on school safety for parents and members of the school community. It’s designed to be a central location for research, training and technical information for all school districts, charter schools and community colleges in the state. The Texas School Safety Center has staff experienced in school safety and can provide technical assistance or training, conduct program evaluations or offer resources to schools. Classes are also available online for the community.
Finally, on Sept. 1, 2021, DPS implemented the Active Shooter Alert System. This is not school-specific but could be used in the event of a shooting at or near a school. The newly implemented alert system is designed to notify people in close proximity to an active shooter situation through cell phones, local broadcast media and Texas Department of Transportation Dynamic Message Signs (DMS), to encourage people to avoid the area or shelter-in-place.
DPS will issue an Active Shooter Alert when an agency submits a request that meets the requirements. Those include an active shooter in the agency’s jurisdiction, determining that the alert would assist people near the active shooter’s location, verification of the active shooter situation through a preliminary investigation by the requesting agency and that the shooter’s last known location is identifiable.
By utilizing all available resources, Texans can work together to keep our schools safe.
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