School safety has become an issue of paramount importance in recent years. Recent surveys conducted by the trade journal Education Week have found that four in 10 educators reported feeling less safe than they did five years ago. A 2021 Gallup poll found that 44% of parents feared for their child’s physical safety while they were at school. the highest level in 20 years.
One of the biggest threats to school safety is the presence of unauthorized people on campus. A high school in Colfax, Calif., for example, was locked down for several hours in January after reports of an unauthorized person on campus. A school in Buffalo, N.Y., experienced a similar lockdown in October 2022 after a group of non-students got into the building. And an elementary school in Saratoga Springs, N.Y., was placed on “lockout” in early 2023 after a man suffering a mental health crisis came to the front door of the school and requested to speak with a police officer who was visiting the school.
A lockout is a protocol under which a school continues its activities while restricting entry into the building.
Although none of these situations resulted in injury, we’ve all seen stories where that wasn’t the case. These cases, and others, spotlight the importance of controlling visitor access to school facilities. With parents, tardy students, vendors and others coming through the school doors during the day, schools need a way to provide access to those who are supposed to be there while at the same time preventing access to those who aren’t.
In its list of ways to improve school entrance security, the journal Campus Safety recommended schools take steps that included having a single point of entry, implementing a double entry door system with position switches and deploying a strong visitor management solution.
Self-service access control
Although in the past access control functions were handled by a live person stationed near the door, these days that’s not always possible. School systems are already suffering from a lack of both funding and staff. As a result, self-service kiosks are stepping up to handle the task.
The Visitor Management System from self-service solutions provider Advanced Kiosks, for example, greets visitors, lets them search for a person’s name, check in for an appointment, get detailed wayfinding directions, and call or text message their party. It can also provide instructions for delivery persons.
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With an added camera, the Visitor Management System kiosk will say hello to visitors and show them how it can help. The Visitor Management System offers functions including:
- Performing visitor screening in a secure lobby
- Printing access cards
- Providing wayfinding information
- Informing students and parents about upcoming events
- Allowing tardy students to check in once doors are locked
Advanced Kiosks’ Visitor Management System allows schools to:
- Choose their greeting.
- Configure the display image.
- Show visitors how to use its main features.
- Add new names or departments with an easy-to-use admin interface.
- Add pictures of people or school logos as desired.
- And more.
Deployers also have the option to change greetings depending on the time of day. Normal functions can be provided during normal business hours, while package delivery instructions and emergency contacts can be displayed at night and on weekends.
Calling or texting someone is easy and is done over VOIP, so a phone line is unnecessary. Schools can choose whether or not the phone number is displayed on the screen, or they can display one number on the screen and have the kiosk call another hidden number. A text notification can be sent out automatically to the person the visitor is seeking in case they are away from their desk. A dial pad can be provided on the screen for voicemail options.
Visitor Managment Systems Sample Interfaces
For schools that serve non-English-speaking students and/or parents, translation services can be accessed on demand. Deployers can customize the translation menu and the kiosk interface will be translated with the touch of a button. Hundreds of languages are supported.
The Visitor Management System also keeps a digital log of everyone accessing the building, eliminating the need for paper logs and sign-in sheets.
Contact one of our experts for more information about how a visitor management system can benefit your facility.