Regardless of type, nearly all schools across the nation have some kind of visitor check-in procedure. A 2022 Pew Research Center analysis found that during the 2019-20 school year, 98% of U.S. schools required visitors to sign or check in and wear a badge. Beyond that, however, visitor management methods and policies could vary from school to school within the same district.
On any given day, a variety of people could be visiting a school campus:
- Parents dropping off or picking up their students
- District staff that work in other buildings
- Guest speakers
- Event vendors
- Health professionals like occupational and speech therapists
- Delivery drivers
Some districts even use their schools as polling locations, which could exponentially increase the number of people coming onto school property. Last year, Wake County Public Schools in North Carolina started closing most schools on Election Day following a push from parents who expressed concern about the high number of people allowed in the building during a regular instructional day.
The Use of Technology in Visitor Management
Innovations in technology have aided schools with visitor management, enabling districts to better monitor the coming and going of both students and non-staff adults. The ability to scan a government ID enables schools to run visitors through sex offender registries to prevent harmful individuals from spending any time within the building. These types of solutions act as an additional layer of safety for students who have active restraining orders against other adults or are in the middle of custody disagreements between their caregivers.
When schools opt to use a kiosk for visitor registration, it streamlines the check-in/-out process, freeing up reception staff to assist others.
Electronic collection of visitor information provides administrators with data that can be used to create more effective and efficient policies or implement new solutions where improvements are necessary.
Possible Visitor Management Challenges
Monitoring school visitors can present a unique set of challenges:
- Staffing shortages often require reception employees to perform multiple duties
- Decentralized processes can create confusion and require more time and attention from staff (e.g. One system for signing students in/out and another for registering as a visitor)
- The lack of a streamlined process can exacerbate front office wait times, frustrating adults and wasting instructional time for students
- Paper systems create waste: they waste time that school administrators simply don’t have at copy machines and potentially hours pouring over visitor data; they waste paper resources that could be put to educational use
- Paper systems create privacy concerns when reasons for visitation are made available for other guests to see
- Paper badges track who is in the school and why, but not their real-time location
- Visitors may stray from the intended area, leading to a delayed response during an emergency
- Inconsistency across schools within a district requires parents and staff to learn multiple systems, contributing to feelings of frustration by community members
Enhanced Visitor Management Addresses Common Challenges
A safe and responsive school environment requires a deep understanding of who is in your school and why, where they are meant to be, and how long they’ve been there.
CENTEGIX® Enhanced Visitor Management pairs the efficiency of electronic registration with the location monitoring capabilities of the CENTEGIX® CrisisAlert™ solution to provide real-time visitor locating.
When a visitor enters a school with an Enhanced Visitor Management solution, they are directed to an electronic kiosk where they provide their personal information, the reason for their visit, and their destination on campus. Their government-issued ID is scanned and checked against available registries and district-created lists.
Upon approval, visitors receive a wearable badge that works in concert with the CrisisAlert solution to identify the visitor’s location on a dynamic map. The map updates every minute to provide a near-accurate account of their time in the building until they check out.
The system acts as an additional set of eyes and creates transparency for where visitors are at any given time. Using the dynamic map, school administrators are able to set off-limits zones for all or select visitors. Real-time location information assists in preventing potential incidents by alerting school staff if a visitor ventures into one of these off-limits areas.
Should an incident require a school lockdown, school administrators can use the dynamic map to locate all of the visitors for faster and more effective emergency response. Since the map is accessed electronically, school staff can more easily share location information with first responders.
Collecting Visitor Data Provides Valuable Insight and Increased Safety
The Enhanced Visitor Management solution supplies school administrators with crucial safety information, and in turn, empowers them to:
- Make more-informed visitor policy decisions
- Create approved visitor lists to speed up the registration
- Create and review volunteer records
- Provide more accurate data for billing vendors
District administrators can choose when they deploy the full solution using location monitoring and when paper badges are more pragmatic. School staff, for example, may determine that location monitoring would be too cumbersome on days with special events that see an influx of parents. Staff at a similar school in a nearby district may have a different policy. The Enhanced Visitor Management solution offers this kind of personalized flexibility, meaning schools can make choices that best suit their safety needs on any given day.
A streamlined visitor management system benefits school staff and the district as a whole. Efficiency increases as resources in the form of time and paper are better spent on teaching and learning. Robust data allows schools to respond effectively to potential security threats posed by visitors and facilitates preventative action regarding the safety of their students and staff.
To see how the CENTEGIX Enhanced Visitor Management system works and speak with a member of our team about this solution in your school, visit https://www.centegix.com/visitor-management/.