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How to Effectively Use School IDs for Enhanced Safety

A good school ID badge can go beyond just identifying students and staff — it can also boost safety on your campus.

In an effort to make campuses as safe as possible, today’s schools are leaving no stone unturned when looking for the latest and greatest security enhancements.

Schools that previously left doors unlocked are now turning to smart lock systems that can be controlled remotely. Campuses that formerly used a volunteer with a notebook to register guests are now using robust Visitor Management systems.

In an ideal world, schools wouldn’t need to spend any time worrying about taking proactive steps to ensure the safety of students and staff, but the threats today’s schools face are too serious to ignore.

However, in a rush to add surveillance cameras and metal detectors, schools are overlooking a more basic way to enhance security: the use of school identification cards for students and staff.


How do school identification cards enhance security? 

At some level, the goal of every ID card is to enhance security through positive identification. For example, a driver’s license confirms that a person can legally operate a vehicle, while an employee ID badge verifies that a person is allowed to access a certain wing of a hospital.

School identification cards function the same way: they serve as a way of confirming that the cardholder, whether it’s a student, teacher or staff member, is allowed to be on site.

A school can use ID cards to implement a number of different policies that enhance security. Here are a few examples of such policies:

  • For students: Issue ID cards to all students, and require students to present their cards to a security officer or staff member upon arrival. This helps prevent outsiders, like students from neighboring schools or potential troublemakers, from gaining access to school buildings.
  • For staff: Issue ID cards to all staff members and require them to be visible, making it easy to quickly confirm, for example, that an adult spotted in the hallway is authorized to be on site. Smart locks and card readers can also be installed to allow these cards to be used as keys for “staff only” areas, like a teacher’s lounge or supply closet.
  • For emergencies: Collect cards from students and staff members at muster points and quickly determine if anyone is missing, allowing for a more efficient response from emergency personnel.


What are my options for school identification cards?

When it comes to choosing a school identification card, the possibilities are nearly endless. From materials and sizes to functionality and form factor, there are many different factors to consider.

For the sake of keeping things simple, options can be divided into two distinct categories:

  • Standard staff and student ID cards These cards are perfect for simple uses, often featuring little more than a logo, a name and a photo. Standard cards are normally used solely for positive identification, as described in the first bullet above.
  • Functional staff and student ID cards While all ID cards technically perform the “function” of positively identifying the cardholder, other cards can be programmed to actually perform functions. For example, cards with magnetic stripes or internal chips can be used to record staff and student attendance, process payments in the cafeteria and more.

The perfect card for a school will depend entirely on what that school is looking to accomplish with its card program.


What are the key features of a good school identification card?

When it comes to identification cards for staff and students, there’s no “one size fits all” solution; each ID card is going to be as unique as the school itself.

However, when starting a new identification card program from scratch, there are a few features that every school should keep in mind.


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What about visitors? Using school check-in systems to separate school personnel from guests

Visitors are an essential part of any school. From vendors to guest speakers, it would be virtually impossible for a school to function without allowing any visitors.

However, welcoming those visitors shouldn’t come at the expense of school security. For that reason, a school visitor management system is a must-have item on today’s campuses.

Schools should process guests differently from the way they process staff and students. For example, staff and students may only be required to show their identification cards to a security officer on the way into the building. Guests, however, should have their names and the date/time of visit recorded upon arrival.

Keeping visitor records like these helps provide invaluable data in the event of an incident. By processing guests in a Visitor Management system, a school can review visitor logs in the event of an incident (like a theft) or can have a record of who was on site in the event of an emergency evacuation.

When it comes to choosing a Visitor Management system for schools, the right fit is going to depend on a number of different factors, including:

  • Visitor volume How many guests per day is the school going to process? Is it dozens, or is it hundreds?
  • Number of sites Will the system be deployed at the main entrance of a single site, or will it be used at multiple buildings across campus?
  • Additional features Does a system need guests to sign a waiver? Does it need to send automatic alerts to the visitor’s host?


Big brother’s watching you: safety through school surveillance?

When it comes to creating an atmosphere of safety and security, few tools are as effective as video surveillance cameras. The mere sight of a surveillance camera is enough to deter the majority of troublemakers.

surveillance camera systems for schools

It’s no surprise, then, that school surveillance systems have become more and more common in recent years. Cameras have been a common sight at school entrances for decades. However, some schools are moving surveillance equipment further inside their buildings, to offices, hallways — and even classrooms.

The goal, of course, is to keep students and staff safe from harm. Having cameras in strategic positions throughout a school can help security teams pinpoint a problem and stop it before it starts, or can record footage of an incident that can be reviewed after the fact.

However, when it comes to video surveillance cameras, installing them all over a school isn’t a black-and-white decision.


The legal implications of school surveillance systems

While security is the name of the game, all staff and students should have a reasonable expectation of privacy while at school.

It goes without saying that cameras don’t belong in places like bathrooms or locker rooms. However, there may be other areas of a school where students and staff members would prefer to not be recorded.

For example, most security cameras are capable of capturing both audio and video. If a student approaches his or her teacher after class to discuss a problem he or she is having at home, both the student and teacher wouldn’t want that conversation on the record.

Similarly, if an administrator is in his or her office conducting a performance review with a teacher, it wouldn’t be prudent for that conversation to be discoverable by a third party.

For that reason, it’s important to consider the privacy rights of both students and staff when installing surveillance cameras at a school.

The ultimate goal is to keep staff and students safe from harm. But schools must also take privacy into consideration and take steps to walk the line between creating a safe atmosphere and respecting one’s personal space.

Interested in boosting security at your school? A comprehensive ID badging plan is a great place to start. We offer a variety of different staff and student ID badge solutions, ranging from standard ID cards to smart cards.

We can print custom cards for you, or provide the tools for you to print your own badges on site.

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