How Access Control Systems Enhance a School’s Safety Plan

Access control systems are a key feature in a school’s plan for campus safety and security.

Creating a safe and secure environment for students and staff is a critical priority for today’s school leaders. Schools are expected to have a comprehensive safety plan that outlines the emergency procedures that students and staff should follow in the event of a specific disaster or emergency condition (e.g., fires, sheltering-in, lockdowns, etc.). In addition to the emergency procedures, impactful school safety plans also include the more common daily processes and procedures needed to secure the learning environment. Access control systems, which are tools for monitoring and controlling access to and within a school building, are an integral part of those daily processes and procedures.

A buzzer entry system allows schools to identify guests before they enter the building.

Schools should have an easy way of knowing who, aside from students and staff, is in the building and the reason for their presence. A buzzer entry system, or an intercom with a camera, allows front office staff to visually verify a guest’s identity and the purpose of their visit before giving them access to the building. This simple set-up immediately increases school safety and minimizes the risk of an unauthorized individual entering the school. Once guests enter, they can proceed to the main office to sign in and receive additional directions.

Buzzer entry systems are good for monitoring and controlling entrance to a school building but schools will need to consider additional or alternative options for monitoring and controlling access within the building.

School leaders have options, beyond intercoms and buzzers, for their access control systems.

School leaders are highly encouraged and often required by their boards, authorizers, or departments of education to review and revise their safety plans in preparation for an upcoming school year. This review process is an optimal time for school leaders to consider upgrading their access control systems. While a buzzer entry system does increase school safety, there are opportunities – beyond the buzzer – for integration with other school systems and enhanced security.

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For example, many schools are opting to go keyless. Traditional door keys, with their ability to be copied and how often they are lost, can pose a security risk. Access cards or key fobs that can be deactivated, if lost or misplaced, make for a more secure school building. Additionally, the use of electronically locked doors allows for staff, and even students, to be given access cards or key fobs that can be programmed with access to specific rooms or specific areas of the school. With this option, schools also gain the ability to lock and unlock all doors in the building from one central location.

Visitor management systems are well-poised for integration with access control systems. Schools have a wide array of options for software that registers visitors and prints badges that can be used for identification and as temporary access cards. Another advantage of this integration is the access to real-time records and reports of who is in the building, in case of emergency.

The best access control system for a school will be unique to its needs.

The vision for keeping staff and students safe is one that all schools share, but decisions about the particular technology that is best suited to address a school’s safety needs are varied and based on factors unique to each school. Factors like: Does the school rent or own its building? Is the school co-located with another school? How far is the main office from the school’s main entrance? How many entrances does the school have?

A school with significant space in its lobby has the option of installing turnstiles that unlock when students and staff swipe their access cards and remain locked until visitors are checked in. A school located in a building that it rents or in a co-located space might not have the option of switching to a keyless system. Access cards for student entry into the building might be a good option for high schoolers but not for elementary school students.

The CTS team is here to support schools as they consider their needs and make these critical decisions.

At CTS, we help schools use technology to meet their instructional and non-instructional needs.

The safety of your school environment is of the utmost importance to you and us. We are experts in the use of access control systems in educational settings and can support you with the sourcing, procurement, and set-up of these systems.

Our team is deeply invested in the work of our partner schools. We spend a tremendous amount of time with each client working to understand their unique needs and how technology fits into their daily programming. Contact us today to learn more about our managed IT services and how we can help your school accomplish its unique mission.