Times have changed. Technology has become a natural part of our everyday routines, from smartphones and laptops, to virtual home assistants and vehicles with driver-aided features. And yet, studies show that approximately 80% of K-12 schools still rely on handwritten sign-in sheets to manage visitors.
Not only are these outdated “pen and paper” logs time consuming and cumbersome, they also poise an unnecessary security risk for schools. Meanwhile, effective automated visitor management software can easily remedy the complications of handwritten sign-in sheets, while offering a number of benefits for your school, your staff and your students.
1. Improved Safety
Think about how busy your school office is on any given day, especially at the beginning and end of the day. Children and parents are coming and going, along with teachers, volunteers, and chaperones, while calls regarding absences are being taken, and forgotten lunches and backpacks are being dropped off. Most schools have limited staff to handle all this activity.
Meanwhile, sign-in sheets often sit unattended on the counter. Visitors could easily write a false name. Many signatures are also illegible, making it difficult to verify a visitor’s name and identity. A signature, even when combined with a photo ID, provides no information about that person’s background. It cannot alert staff to custody issues or identify registered sex offenders. Finally, in an emergency evacuation, it’s highly likely that sign-in sheets will be left behind, leaving no record of who was on school premises and who might be left behind.
Now imagine a system that quickly and easily scans a visitor’s government-issued identification (e.g., a driver’s license), instantly confirming that they are who they say are, as well as checking their identity against national registered sex offender lists. These systems can also provide alerts regarding child custody issues or banned individuals, based on your school’s records. and then notify a customized list of recipients via text or email.
In addition, automated visitor management software creates an electronic record that is accessible on- or off-site by web-based systems in case of an emergency or evacuation, improving the safety of everyone on your school’s premises.
Did You Know…?
- There are over 850,000 registered sex offenders in the United States per the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).
- According to the FBI, nearly 86% of child abductions are committed by parents or other family members involved in custody cases. In addition to child safety concerns, these custody issues can have huge financial impacts for schools due to lawsuits.
2. Increased Front-Desk Efficiency – Saving Time and Money
As noted, the front desk is a busy place. When your staff is working hard to juggle multiple tasks, including a potential line of visitors waiting for help, its easy to let things slide or make mistakes with a manual system. These manual systems are also very time consuming.
Even if you have the staff and ability to manually check names against sex offender registries and custody orders, it’s not a quick process. For instance, it takes at least a full minute to check a name against your own state’s database of sex offenders – not to mention the time required for each of the other 49 states. And what about the extra time required to check identities against school records?
There is also a high likelihood of errors when entering a visitor’s name and date of birth. Since the Department of Justice’s nationwide database does not screen by date of birth, it can produce hundreds of potential matches to a particular name.
An automated visitor management system frees up your staff to handle other tasks, while accurately screening visitors, creating an automatic record and printing out an ID badge, which includes a photo, date and time. Depending on the system you choose, visitors can access a self-serve kiosk or a staff member can log them in quickly and easily.
Either way, these systems run background checks, preventing sex offenders or banned individuals on your customized list from entering your school with minimal effort from office staff. In fact, the process takes mere seconds!
The time saved by using LobbyGuard’s automated system over manual log-in books is phenomenal. The assurance provided by having a photograph of all adult visitors on campus offers a greater sense of security.”
– Joyce Adams, Principal, Grey’s Creek High School
3. Enhanced Visitor Management Policies and Procedures
Most schools have policies and procedures in place to handle visitors, as well as student sign-in and sign-out. However, having these systems and actually using them consistently are two different things! With an automated visitor management system, these policies and procedures are easy to adhere to, which increases visibility and accountability. School personnel are able to identify anyone in the building at any given time.
The logic is simple: procedures and policies that are time-consuming or difficult to manage don’t get followed consistently, while those that are quick and easy to use improve compliance dramatically!
4. Better Records with Less Work
Schools are required to keep a lot of records, including when students arrive late or leave early. With automated visitor management software, this information is not only recorded accurately, multiple export options make it easy to import this data into your Student Information System, reducing the amount of time and labor required.
In the same way, records regarding visitors, volunteers and staff can also be easily maintained and compiled. With an automated visitor management system, you can track sign-in times, sign-out times, reasons for visit, who was visited, and more, providing a good accounting system of who enters and exits the building.
Finally, records that reside on a school computer may not be able to be accessed during an emergency. One of the advantages of using a “cloud-based” system is that is can accessed from any internet connection. In addition, past visitor records can be used to generate reports for an individual school or an entire district. And, since these systems are maintained by the service provider, you don’t have to worry about managing the technology.
The Lobbyguard Kiosk has saved us time while keeping our students safe. The Lobbyguard’s amazing features have been able to free up our office staff to do other things, making the customer service to our patrons even better. We’re thrilled with the system and its ability to keep our students and staff safe!”
– Greg Brown, Principal Dick Scobee Elementary School
5. Upgraded Professionalism and Morale
Using an automated visitor management system sends a powerful message to parents, students, staff and the community: “We take safety seriously!” “We handle visitors to our school in a professional way.” And, “We are up-to-date and tech savvy.” These messages affect the view of everyone who interacts with your school and are important for your school’s reputation.
Outdated visitor management systems signal that your school may be lagging behind in other areas of technology. Security breaches can cause parents and staff to lose confidence in your ability to keep students and personnel safe. And, an overworked staff can lead to poor morale.
On the other hand, using automated visitor management software improves confidence, removes tasks from busy staff, and enhances your school’s reputation, helping to attract and retain high-quality educators.
Between the license scan and the photo, I feel LobbyGuard is more secure than other systems. It makes me feel better that everyone who steps into the schools has to go through this process before entering where the kids are.”
– Parent and PTA Member Sumner County, TN
If you’re still using antiquated handwritten sign-in sheets in this digital age, isn’t it time to make an upgrade and take advantage of the benefits automated visitor management software offers? These systems are surprising easy to install and use – and more affordable than you might think.
For a free consultation and product demonstration, visit LobbyGuard at lobbyguard.com or call us at 1-866-905-6229.