5 Things Your School Visitor Management System Must Do (Part 1)

Woman passing ID to lady at check-in

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Schools that rely on handwritten visitor logs or inaccurate visitor screenings put their students and staff at risk. Using a visitor management system for schools empowers you to confirm the visitor’s identity and whether they should be allowed to enter the school or pick up a student. 

And it’s not just about keeping unwanted entrants out. School visitor management systems and effective policies show that the school is actively managing safety, which in turn helps staff, students, and guardians feel safer.  

Below we list 5 features of K-12’s most trusted visitor management system. Consider this information as you evaluate systems or determine if your existing system is thoroughly protecting your school community. 

1. Screen every visitor against sex offender registries and custom databases

The best visitor management systems for schools instantly screen each visitor’s government-issued ID card (such as their driver’s license or passport) against the sex offender registries in all 50 states and your customized database(s). These customized, locally owned lists can include individuals with custodial restrictions, banned or restricted access, and expelled students. 

This screening should happen every time a visitor logs into the system. If a visitor does not have an acceptable form of ID, your system should allow you to manually enter the visitor’s information for screening and tracking purposes, as well as take a photo with an integrated webcam.  

“We screen everyone who comes into the building and give them a visitor badge. We have alerts configured so the appropriate people are notified if someone who shouldn’t have access attempts to enter. We enter all of our Orders of Protection and other custom alerts in Raptor to keep everyone accountable.” 

– West Aurora School District 129, IL 

2. Confidently confirm a flagged entrant and immediately send alerts

If a potential custom database or sex offender registry match is found during the screening, the visitor management system should prompt you to review and confirm that the information matches. If the information does not match, and the visitor is cleared, the system should remember the false positive pair and not show it again. 

However, when there is a confirmed match, the system should send instant alerts to a customized list of recipients. This allows the appropriate personnel to quickly respond and escort the individual out of the building. The system should immediately alert you if a flagged individual attempts to check-in on another day or at another building.  

3. Track entrants by role and provide detailed visitor badges

The most robust systems have various persona types (visitors, guardians, contractors, and volunteers) to help schools screen and track entrants based on their roles. This helps the school report on each persona, like creating a log of all contractor activity or confirming how many volunteers are in your elementary school versus your high school.   

Once a visitor is cleared, their badge should include their role type, name, destination, date and time of entry, and photo. If applicable, your visitor badge should also include a barcode that will accelerate self-check-out at your kiosk station.  

4. Release students to approved guardians and track student tardies and dismissals

Syncing with your Student Information Systems (SIS) lets the visitor management system directly pull data from your SIS and ensure you are releasing students to approved individuals. When a guardian signs in to pick up a student for early dismissal, your visitor management system should screen them against the databases, as well as provide visual guardian matching (i.e., display the guardian’s information and photo in your SIS against the information in your visitor management system).  

The SIS sync also helps schools better track tardies. Ideally, your system enables you to quickly mark students tardy, select a reason why, and choose whether to print a tardy slip.  

5. Generate district- and school-level reports

Automated systems record and maintain every visitor’s details and make such data instantly accessible to approved school personnel so that they can create accurate district- and school-wide reports. Robust systems come pre-configured with multiple reporting options and allow schools to create and save custom reports at no additional cost. To streamline reporting, the system should enable you to automatically set reports to run and be delivered based on a schedule that fits your needs.  

These reports are critical if your school evacuates, and you must account for everyone on campus. Unfortunately, 65% of schools said they are not confident that they accurately do this. This finding is not surprising, since many schools still rely on handwritten visitor logs that are nearly impossible to handle during school crises. 

“We’re doing renovations and building new campuses, so we have a lot of contractors in and out of our campuses every day. Raptor Visitor Management is integral in keeping track of who is on each campus, and because it integrates with Raptor Emergency Management, we’re able to track and account for those contractors if we need to evacuate.” 

– Bay City Independent School District, TX 

Follow Visitor Management Best Practices

A powerful visitor management system is your first line of defense against unsafe entrants. Choosing the right system—and developing the policies for using that system—does not have to be cumbersome. When you partner with the industry leader, it can make all the difference.  

With nearly 20 years of experience and partnerships with over 35,000 K-12 schools, Raptor keeps updated on the latest best practices and happily shares our research and recommendations to help schools evolve as safety needs change. Read these best practices in our Guide to K-12 Visitor Management: Best Practices for Year-Round Safety.