Managing School Visitors
- By Ralph C. Jensen
- Jan 01, 2013
As a kid, I lived across the
street from the school in
sleepy Byron, Wyo. It was a
wonderful community where
everyone knew everyone’s business.
Going to school was like
going to church; adults could
come and go as they wanted.
Times have obviously changed since then,
at least as far as who may visit the school setting.
A typical school has lots of visitors during
any given day, including parents, vendors
and volunteers, most of which are honest,
hardworking, caring adults. But some aren’t.
Many schools share the same security challenges
and goals of providing a safe, secure
place for children. Every school needs a written,
reviewed and practiced visitor management
policy. For starters, there should only be
one visitor entrance. Once classes begin, all
doors should be locked and remain locked
while students are in class.
To access a school, visitors should be
allowed to enter a door leading only to the
main office. They must be able to produce a
government-issued ID, which would then be
checked against an electronic visitor management
database. This would check the
visitor against FBI and state and local law
The visitor will then be issued a printed
badge that includes an expiration date detailing
when that person arrived and should also
have the ability to indicate when that person
had departed the campus. While this may
seem a bit extreme, more than 40 states have
enacted some form or version of the Lundsford
Act, first enacted in Florida in 2005. Also
known as Jessica’s Law, the act was passed
soon after Jessica Lundsford was sexually battered
and murdered by a previously convicted
School security takes into account the
mindset of “this won’t happen at my school.”
It is a vigilant reminder that something bad
can happen anywhere.
As for the schools in Byron, well, they have
consolidated into a thriving campus, centrally
located in Cowley, Wyo., where Superintendent
Shon Hocker said the days of wide open
doors are long gone. Visitors at the school
enter at the front door into a vestibule where
the school secretary performs
a security check.
Thus, school officials
know exactly where
the visitor is going
and how long they
will be on campus.
This article originally appeared in the January 2013 issue of Security Today.
Ralph C. Jensen is editor-in-chief of Security Today magazine.