Vitals Technology Introduced at CHCCS
At a press conference at McDougle Middle School (MMS) on Tuesday, September 17, a team of leaders from Chapel Hill-Carrboro City Schools (CHCCS) participated in the rollout of new technology, Vitals Aware Service. Following a long history of building relationships with parents and students, CHCCS will equip as many as 40 staff members with the Vitals App, an opportunity to align with the district’s continued plans to invest in youth, take advantage of cutting-edge technology, provide a safe learning environment for students and give hundreds of parents more peace of mind.
Based in Minnesota, Vitals was launched in 2017 and was initially designed for police, fire, rescue and other first responders. “We learned about the value of the product and decided it would be helpful in keeping our students safe. We will offer to implement the app in all of our middle and high schools. Principals, assistant principals, nurses and school resource officers – 40 people in all – will each have access to The Vitals App.
Additionally, Phoenix Academy High will be the first school in the nation to have its entire staff equipped with access to The Vitals App,” said Executive Director of Public Relations Jeff Nash.
Vitals provides first responders with crucial information about vulnerable individuals, increasing the effectiveness of situational response, and significantly increasing the potential for successful and safe resolutions. Vitals enrollees, or their family members, voluntarily provide the individualized information in this program revolving around technological innovation. That information might be details about a student’s diabetes, allergies or seizure disorder, or it might be a list of techniques to employ when an oppositional student loses control.
The parents of more than 6,000 CHCCS middle and high school students can now register and provide information into the Vitals system. In addition, every staff member at Phoenix Academy High School (PAHS), the district’s alternative high school, will be equipped with access to Vitals. Parents can upload a child’s current medications, treatment plans or behavior triggers. Each student profile will contain specified emergency contacts, providing easy access to parents or others in a crisis situation. When students register, Vitals will send the student their own “beacon” that uses bluetooth technology to ping a staff member with the Vitals app or the School Resource Officer (SRO) who comes within 80 feet.
Speakers at Tuesday’s press conference included Superintendent Pam Baldwin, Chief Communications Officer of Vitals Stan Alleyne, School Resource Officer at Smith Middle School Kurt Gurley, Executive Director of Exceptional Children and System of Care Lessley Saenz-Mader and Director of Safe Schools Scarlett Steinert.
“We are always on the lookout for ways to keep our students safe, and to provide the support necessary to ensure a successful school experience. This app will provide parents with an opportunity to voluntarily upload information that can help us better serve their children,” Superintendent Baldwin said.
“Vitals will provide us with much needed information, in real-time, to help us serve and support our students compassionately, if they’re having a difficult time. More broadly, the app will give us yet another avenue to build relationships and support our parents, Steinert explained.
One of the powerful benefits of this initiative is the way in which it strengthens resources in a district focused on inclusion. Vitals’ Alleyne, described several instances real-time users had when the app played a major role in defusing or improving outcomes during challenging situations for people with autism or PTSD. For CHCCS, it means by alerting educators and SRO’s to a student’s specific vulnerabilities and triggers, those in contact with the young person will receive a notification regarding the student’s diagnosis and how to best approach them in a crisis or escalating situation.
In regards to privacy concerns, all profiles are created by parents and not by school staff. Information can be added, edited or deleted in real time at the parents’ discretion.
“The information in the Vitals system will essentially give parents a voice as school employees interact with their children,” said Janee Harteau, president and CEO of Vitals Aware Services.
Stay tuned for a parent information email from the district, explaining more about the program and how to sign up.