Guarding the Front Door: School Visitor Management Best Practices

K-12 campuses should combine building design, video surveillance, guest management systems, policies, procedures and staff training.

Policy, Procedures and Training Are Critical
Implementing technology, improving facilities and providing safety systems is only the first step in better securing a school site. These practices must be memorialized in solid policy, and employees must be trained to fully utilize the new procedures. When staff is not trained in the use of the technology, its usefulness will rapidly deteriorate. As one employee stops using the system, more employees will revert to old practices or simply cease to use the new technology.

It’s also important to note that proper security procedures do not decrease workload on any employee. To the contrary, proper security practices add additional duties and responsibilities to all employees.

Staff should be kept fully aware of new technology and the reasons for it. Providing updates as the system is implemented is a great way to keep employees informed of what types of systems are on the horizon and what their responsibilities will be. Keeping employees informed during implementation will greatly reduce the amount of resistance that change in the work place typically brings. As the technology becomes available, employees should be trained and retrained in its proper use. A point of contact should be assigned to address any questions staff may have for the first several months to ensure that everyone can have problems or questions addressed immediately. Allowing questions to grow stagnant is a sure-fire way to start down the road to failure.

As staff becomes trained and familiar with the technology and expectations, policies should be created to support the use of the new technology. Security practices cannot be suggestions or optional. The use of all available technology to secure sites must be mandatory, and all staff members must use the technology in order to reduce vulnerabilities in the system through lack of use.

An example of vulnerability creation occurs when one or two employees do not use the systems that are in place. Any person with criminal intent could easily become familiar with which employees are using solid security principles and which ones are not using the systems in place. Armed with that knowledge, any well-prepared criminal could simply plan their attack during a time when the employee who is known to not follow procedures is working.

Security Is Everyone’s Job
Security practices, specifically lobby management strategies, are every employee’s responsibility. Districts should look at possible remodeling or workflow designs to reduce the opportunity for unauthorized persons to access a school site. Lobbies should be arranged so secure areas are clearly established and marked to reduce the visitor’s ability to wander into protected areas.

Technology should be fully utilized to augment facility design to make sites as secure as possible. As new practices and procedures are implemented, districts must provide ample training opportunities and create policies that mandate all employees utilize the procedures in place. Using multiple methods, school sites can be secured without creating an institutionalized appearance that could undermine a positive learning environment.

Christopher K. Wynn is the chief of district security for the Val Verde Unified School District in Perris, Calif. Visit for more examples of school lobby security best practices.

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Campus Safety magazine is another great resource for public safety, security and emergency management professionals. It covers all aspects of campus safety, including access control, video surveillance, mass notification and security staff practices. Whether you work in K-12, higher ed, a hospital or corporation, Campus Safety magazine is here to help you do your job better!

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