Intruder Assessment: How to Test Your School Visitor Management Protocols

stranger walking through hallway

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Part of a school safety and security audit, an intruder assessment evaluates how well your school keeps unwanted visitors off campus and outside of your buildings. It enables schools to observe how staff and students act when they see an unknown person and tests how well your school follows your visitor management procedures, especially if you are using a school visitor management system. 

Like conducting other school safety drills, this assessment helps determine areas of improvement. Below we share best practices for conducting both unauthorized and authorized intruder assessments.  

How should schools conduct the assessment?

Schools should conduct this assessment various times throughout the year. It should be unannounced to the school community; however, it’s highly suggested that the assessment team notifies local first responders and a district level administrator in case someone from the school calls to report the intruder.  

Note that an intruder test should not scare or traumatize the school community. The acting intruders should be calm; they should not act violent, irate, or threatening. If school staff discover the intruder, they should immediately show identification. Ideally, they will have a letter from the assessment team that details why they are on campus.  

It’s best practice to use multiple people who are unknown to the school and can test both unauthorized and authorized entrances.  

Unauthorized Entrance Tests 

For unauthorized entrances, the intruder should walk around campus and take note of all the opportunities they have to enter the school. Examples of how to enter include: 

  • following closely behind students or staff as they enter the buildings 
  • walking through any open doors (commonly seen in the gym or cafeteria) 
  • knocking on doors to see if someone will let them enter 
  • entering through playground gates  

The assessment should record things like: 

  • how they gained access and how long it took 
  • where they walked around on campus (hallways, gym, library, etc.) 
  • if they had access to classrooms 
  • how staff and students reacted to their presence 
  • how long they were on campus before being questioned 

Authorized Entrance Tests 

It’s just as important to test authorized entrances, like the front office. If they are using a school visitor management system, the intruder can either adhere to the protocol or refuse to do so. If the intruder refuses to follow visitor protocols—such as scanning their ID—they should observe how staff react.  

The intruder should note if: 

  • there was prominent signage that instructed where visitors should sign in 
  • front office staff greeted them and asked for ID 
  • they were asked to sign in on a visitor management system and enter details such as reason for visit and destination 

If they gain entry to the campus, the now authorized visitor should walk around the school, taking note of everywhere they have access. For example, if their visitor badge says cafeteria as the destination, the intruder should instead go to the library and see how long it takes until someone confronts them. 

What can you learn from an assessment?

This assessment is an effective way to observe and test how your school follows visitor management protocols. It can show you how vulnerable your school is to unauthorized visitors, where you need to secure entrances, and whether your staff and students need more training.  

Staff and students should be trained to recognize visitors and follow the appropriate steps if a visitor is unauthorized. For example, if a visitor does not have a badge, your staff should instruct them to go to the front office to sign in on the school visitor management system.  

Improve Your School Visitor Management Policies

Every school needs a visitor management policy that describes what their procedure will be for anyone entering the buildings. Coupled with a powerful visitor management system, this policy is your first line of defense against unwanted entrants. 

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.