The question of how to maintain a safe school environment has become a major issue in recent years, especially in the United States. There are so many aspects on how to keep schools safe that the problem may seem overwhelming. But one aspect that is consistently touted as crucial to school safety policies is the issue of managing visitors within a school campus.
School security experts have identified visitor management as one of the most important factors in proactively stopping school incidents. As such, improving your school’s policies and procedures should be of the utmost importance when discussing school safety policies.
Improving the way your school handles visitor management will not only make it a safer place, but it will also lighten the workload for school staff, making it easier for them to keep your school safe and increase their productivity.
Many U.S. schools still use pen and paper to track attendance and log visitors. But upgrading to a visitor management system yields many advantages over paper logs.
The Problems with Traditional Visitor Management
School administrators might think that tracking visitors on paper saves cost and offers the same safety as an automated system. However, traditional visitor management suffers from several flaws that lead to security concerns and also hampers faculty productivity.
The first glaring issue with depending on staff to track visitors is the fact that school faculty may be unable to tend to the front desk at all times. Staff are frequently called to other areas of the school to complete their job duties. This could potentially leave lobbies empty, and vulnerable to unwanted visitors.
Logging visitors via paper also creates much more work for staff. While it may not seem too labor intensive to keep paper records on the surface, but once you factor in the number of class changes and visitors schools experience per day, the overhead quickly adds up. With a wide variety of visitors setting foot onto your campus, it’s easy to mis-log new volunteers, vendors, local officials, and student pick-up services, for example. These are large factors that lead of the volume of visitors rising on campuses, thus creating the need for a dedicated visitor management system to be in place so that human error can be corrected.
How Visitor Management Systems Solve These Problems
The good news is that automated visitor management systems (VMS’s) solve these problems using advanced technology. Although the initial investment may be off-putting to some, there are many cloud-based systems well under $1k. These systems will quickly pay for themselves by increasing productivity with staff. Once installed, schools may begin to increase their safety from unwanted campus visitors.
VMSs are designed to always be present at the entrance to a school building. The VMS scans a visitors government-issued state-issued ID, comparing the visitor’s information against sex offender registries as well as school and district-specific lists. School-designated personnel are notified of potential sex offenders and other school-configured alerts. Clear visitors are given a highly visible visitor pass. If the school has correctly setup a VMS the designated entry-point, it should be impossible for a new visitor to access the school without being recorded.
The Added Security of Automated Visitor Management
Technology systems also add an extra layer of security that just isn’t possible with the traditional method. They can accomplish things that humans wouldn’t normally be able to. There are many things that are possible once a school has upgraded to a VMS, such as better screening for visitors and more accurate accountability.
Screen Visitors Against Sex Offender Databases
When VMS’s scan a visitors identification card, they are able to connect to all available sex offender registries in the U.S. to search for any matches. Should the VMS find that the visitor is in a database, it can alert authorities, school personnel, and deny entry to the visitor. This is a large benefit to add to school safety procedures.
Visitor Management Options
Another option to consider when using a visitor management system can include integration with student SIS to help improve and manage student pick-up, issue late arrival passes, and early dismissal slips for students. This is the beauty of a VMS. Once attained and installed, a VMS can be upgraded to further better your school’s safety. Another optional add-on for a VMS is to be able to issue fobs or cards to frequent visitors (ex. volunteers, substitute teachers, etc.) that are not students or staff for a speedy check-in process. The Maine Department of Education recently releases a report titled “Twenty Simple Strategies to Safer and More Effective Schools”. This report identified that improved student supervision is the #1 way to quickly and effectively make any school safer for its students and faculty.
Controlling Access to Buildings Internally
Visitor Management Systems are an integral part of a comprehensive access control process within your campus. Another crucial part of any successful school safety policy and comprehensive access control process is the control of entry in the school building from students and staff, let alone visitors. The Texas School Safety Center identifies access control as one of the top safety concerns and challenges faced by schools. Controlling who can access the building is essential to school safety and having the ability to lock down the school quickly can stop an incident before it happens.
ScholarChip is one company that offers smart ID cards which regulate who can enter and exit a building within the school campus, aside from tracking attendance. Anyone who accesses a building inside the campus with a smart ID card will also be recorded in the school’s database automatically to help strengthen your school’s safety.
ScholarChip’s school safety system is controlled via a cloud-based management system and their smart ID cards are controlled with special chip within. Through these available systems, approved school staff can initiate a lockdown with the push of a button. The cloud-based interface means that staff has access wherever they are. This gives your staff the ability to get ahead of a potential emergency rather than react when the incident has already happened.
ScholarChip’s Visitor Management System Keeps Schools Safe, Period.
Investing in a visitor management system for your campus may sound like an expensive investment up front, but the efficiency and peace of mind it brings to your school and staff will pay for itself in no time. When planning your school safety policies and procedures, take a look at ScholarChip’s visitor management system along with their other school safety services.
ScholarChip is an all-in-one, platform solution to help reduce school threats and address the important issues surrounding school safety and procedures. Data from students, faculty, and stakeholder are leveraged to manage school access, attendance, and behavior management through the platform tools to increase safety and promote the campus climate schools are looking for.
To find out more about ScholarChip and how your school can benefit from visitor management technology, request a 1-on-1 demo today!