Paper and Pencil Visitor Management vs. an Automated System? Covid-19 Tips the Scales

Automated Visitor Management

School security software has made great inroads in the last five or six years, being adopted by increasing numbers of K−12 schools, yet a significant number of schools still rely on some form of handwritten, hard-copy visitor log to document and track school visitors, volunteers, and contractors.

Keeping track of school visitors is essential, of course, but asking visitors to sign their names into a logbook probably isn’t the most effective practice to ensure school security. Visitors can write a false name, or they can write the name illegibly. Unless the school staff is checking the name against an ID, or unless the person is known to the staff member, there is no real way of confirming the person’s identity. Even if they write their own name legibly, school staff still know virtually nothing about the person’s background or whether they should be allowed to enter the school.

There are nearly one million registered sex offenders in the United States; almost certainly some have slipped through the cracks at schools still relying on handwritten visitor logs. The growing problem of custody issues also presents schools with huge security concerns and data management problems, not to mention the very real liability issues releasing a student by mistake to a non-custodial parent can lead to.

And now, with the global coronavirus pandemic, as schools look to reopen, still another danger looms over students and staff members in our schools: the invisible threat of COVID-19. Handwritten sign-in logs are clearly not designed to thoroughly screen visitors for COVID-19 exposure or address the detailed gathering of visitor data necessary to initiate sound contact tracing efforts should a visitor, volunteer, or contractor subsequently come down with the virus.

Automate the Process for Greater Security

One highly effective alternative to handwritten sign-in logs is automated visitor management software. These automated systems allow school staff to positively identify persons by using their government-issued IDs. A system such as Raptor® Visitor Management instantly checks names against registered sex offender lists and locally customized lists for custody alerts or prohibited persons. It can send instant alerts via text and email to a district-determined list of recipients, such as building administrators, key district personnel, and law enforcement if an unauthorized person attempts to sign-in. Raptor also allows for customizable check-in fields to include COVID-19-specific screening questions that will enable school staff to interdict and prevent the entry of someone identified as a coronavirus exposure risk if in line with their local health officials recommendations.

Raptor captures key contact information from the visitor’s ID as well as the date and time of visit and the person’s destination in the school. This secure, cloud-stored data is instantly retrievable via district-wide reporting functions to facilitate contact tracing efforts should a positive case of COVID-19 be identified.

Raptor systems issue official visitor badges that include the visitor’s key data and photo as well as a statement confirming the person’s clearance for COVID-19 exposure, giving students, staff, and other visitors reassurance that steps are being taken every day to safeguard the school from dangerous individuals as well as virus exposure.

For more information about how your district can leap ahead from the limited security and cumbersome, error-prone data management provided by handwritten visitor logs and procedures—as well as help safeguard schools from the threat of COVID-19 exposure—request to schedule a demo of Raptor Visitor Management here.

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