HB 669 by Rep. Shawn Thierry would require that every classroom have a panic alert device to allow immediate contact with emergency services (district/school or local authorities). TCTA testified in support, noting that in addition to its use as a school safety device, the panic alert would also be useful in the case of a medical emergency. The bill was heard in the House Select Committee on Youth Health and Safety, and its Senate companion, authored by Senate Education Committee Chair Brandon Creighton, is scheduled for a hearing Wednesday.
TCTA intern Quinn McCall spoke about his prior experience as a teacher (as quoted in the Austin American-Statesman):
Multiple people testifying before the committee, including a public school teacher and a former school district police chief, spoke in favor of the bill Monday. Quinn McCall, representing the Texas Classroom Teachers Association, testified in support of the bill, saying the alert system would also prove useful in emergencies beyond school shootings. As a former high school teacher, he said he still remembers being told one of his students had died from an asthma attack at home. “I immediately began to wonder what would have happened if he had that kind of asthma attack in my classroom because I didn’t have a panic alert switch, and I likely would have had to deputize a student to run to the nurse’s office, which takes time, especially in some larger high schools,” McCall said. “I would have had to call 911 myself and relay all this information, would have had to perform first aid on him to try and keep them stable while the nurse came back,” he said. “So, it’s a lot of layers that get added on to this response, and those critical seconds can literally be the difference between life and death for our students.”
TCTA also supported other bills in the Youth Health and Safety hearing. HB 195 by Rep. Mary Gonzalez would require that a special education/504 student's 504 committee/IEP team must consider any necessary accommodations that the student will need during a disaster or emergency situation, and HB 1157 by Rep. JM Lozano would allow for excused absences for a student to attend an appointment with a mental health professional.