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School Entrance Control Systems: A Guide for Evaluating Your Options

School safety and security are top concerns in communities everywhere, but many administrators and teachers feel overwhelmed when considering their options and available resources. It’s well known that many school districts and staff members are being asked to accomplish more with less, which doesn’t seem practical when it comes to school entrance control systems.

The good news is that modern school entrance control technology offers affordable features that can streamline staff involvement in entrance control while maintaining tight security. And in the era of COVID-19, school access control systems can also play a helpful, automated role in temperature scanning and contact tracing.

Consider these questions when evaluating whether a school entry control system is a good fit for your school’s needs:

How efficiently and safely does the system handle students, staff and enrolled visitors?

Due to the sheer number of people that pass through a school’s doors on an average day, an entrance control system should offer some method of making entry more efficient for those who enter daily or frequently and are “enrolled” in the system. Many entrance control systems use ID badges and card readers to grant entry for students and staff, but there are several vulnerabilities with only badges.

If an ID badge is lost or stolen, an unauthorized visitor can easily gain access into the school. This system also relies on badge holders to notice if a badge is missing and promptly report it to maintain the appropriate security.

Facial matching provides a more modern, contactless, secure, and badge-free technology for school entry. The term “facial recognition” may come with high-tech, pricey connotations, but in reality, facial matching can be performed with a basic security camera or webcam at an affordable cost.

In an entrance control application, software can compare an image of a visitor outside the doors with images of enrolled students and staff, then automatically grant entry to people in the system. There is no card for students and staff to keep track of, and no risk of a badge getting into the wrong hands.

How are non-enrolled, occasional visitors handled?

For visitors who need occasional or onetime access to the building, there are several considerations for administrators. First, a strong entry control system should be able to confirm that the individual is who they say they are. Schools may also want to check the individual’s name against one or more watch lists, such as lists of banned visitors, non-custodial parents, or those with restraining orders.

When a staff member is charged with these responsibilities, visitor management can often take up a large portion of their day. Checking an ID and comparing the name against lists of flagged visitors can also be error-prone for staff members. Many modern counterfeit IDs are sophisticated enough to fool trained professionals in a visual inspection, so school receptionists face a tough task in spotting fake IDs.

Using an ID reader and software to properly authenticate an ID is a far more secure approach. This technology flags counterfeit IDs with great accuracy. It can also match the person standing there with the image on the ID and can easily compare the name against watch lists customized for the school. This reduces the risk of a banned or unwanted visitor entering the school.

Entrance control systems can be installed in such a way that the visitor inserts his or her own ID into the reader, maintaining a contactless process even before the visitor is allowed into the reception area. This gives schools more ability to keep unwanted visitors outside the doors and provides greater security and safety for your front office staff.

How can the system help with COVID-19 issues?

While the COVID-19 pandemic is underway, schools face even greater challenges for entrance control and visitor management. Many facilities are implementing temperature scan requirements for visitors, but once again, this puts reception staff on the front lines and requires additional labor and potentially exposure to the virus.

One solution that reduces risks to staff while still maintaining temperature screening is using thermal scan technology. This can be handled by automated scanning equipment, so access can be denied to a visitor with an elevated temperature before they are ever allowed entry into the main building.

An entrance control system should also serve as a log of who was in the building on a given day, making it a useful tool for COVID-19 contact tracing. If an outbreak occurs, staff can easily determine any visitors on site that day and alert them.

How are security breaches handled?

Even the best entrance control technology in the world wouldn’t be worth much if it was too difficult for staff to use, or if it didn’t provide strong training and support for security breaches or other incidents. A school entry control system should provide active threat monitoring and easy-to-follow protocols for emergency situations, so that school staff members can activate the system and perform their roles in sometimes frightening conditions. Additionally, the situation should be able to be monitored by offsite security team members, who can evaluate the threat and provide guidance to law enforcement or other responders to the type of emergency or threat.

On-demand training is a valuable support tool, as teachers and staff members can better fit it into their already overscheduled time. It also allows new hires to be trained quickly, rather than having to wait for the next scheduled training date.

Of course, each school is different, and school administrators shouldn’t be expected to identify security problems and customize solutions all on their own. Schools should seek out security partners who have the expertise to consult on unique problems and offer practical, proven solutions, plus the support tools to help those solutions stay in place over time.

If your school is in need of an affordable safety and security system that provides entrance control, security monitoring, training, and more, contact Veridocs for a discussion of how our technologies can help.