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On December 12, 2013 Jeff Rossen of The Today Show aired a hidden camera segment regarding school security, or the lack thereof. Click here to view the report.
It is important for schools to have well established campus visitor policies that will enforce a safe and orderly environment. As observed in the news segment four out of five of the schools “tested” by Jeff Rossen in New Jersey passed with adequate security, but the fifth one he visited had a breach in security procedures and earned quite a bit of attention on the news segment as a “poor example” of school security. The report goes on to give results from an affiliate station in New York City where a reporter with hidden cameras was able to walk in unhindered in 7 out of 10 schools visited.
Signage displaying “Visitors Must Check in at the Office” should be prominently placed at all points of entry. It is recommended that a site map be posted showing the location of the office. Visitors to any school environment must be required to identify themselves to school officials with Government Issued identification. Offices and administration areas serve as the first line of defense in identifying visitors to a school campus. The best visitor management systems include magnetic door locks with point of entry controls. They are operated by a staff member from a secured area. This system prevents unauthorized access to the school.
Once the visitor enters the school they are required to sign in, show a valid form of identification, state the purpose for their visit and be authorized by a staff member to proceed into the school. Training office staff as to valid reasons for a visit to the campus is important. When asked about the nature of their visit only visitors with a valid reason for being on campus should be allowed to proceed. Visitors should then be escorted by a staff member to their destination.
Visitor credentials such as nametags and lanyards are effective methods to make sure visitors easily stand out while they are on the campus. When a visitor signs out and is ready to leave the school, staff needs to be diligent in collecting their visitor credentials. Some schools require visitors to have a photograph taken of them upon their entry to the school. Keeping a record of visitors with photographs can serve to improve the level of security. Visitor policies will vary from school to school, but the basic components should be consistent.