As schools and parents work to ensure safe and secure learning environments, we need to be sure we’re considering who we are allowing to enter our schools.

It is an unfortunate reality that in the United States today, there are over 750,000 registered sex offenders, and for the majority of U.S. schools — approximately 80 percent — it is all too easy for anyone to walk in the school doors and interact with our children without any verification of their identity or screening for sex offense history.

To create safer school environments, we need to ensure that everyone entering our schools — visitors, volunteers, contractors, vendors and chaperones — are properly vetted.  

To accomplish this, we recommend the following:

1. Single access

Access to a school should be limited to a single point of entry where the main office has visibility into everyone entering the school.

2. Picture ID

As opposed to handwritten sign-in sheets where names can easily be fabricated, schools should require a valid form of ID that includes a photograph to verify a person’s identity.

3. Screening software

Once a person’s identity is verified, the ID should be scanned into visitor management software that conducts an instant and automatic screening against an up-to-date national sex offender registry and checks for any court-ordered custody restrictions.

4. Visitor’s badge

Each visitor should be issued a badge that includes the visitor’s photo, the date and time, and the authorized destination.

5. Emergency plan

If an issue arises, front desk personnel should have access to a discreet method for alerting security personnel immediately.

Amongst just the fraction of U.S. schools currently employing such a protocol, an astounding 30,000+ people have already been flagged attempting to enter our nation’s schools. It is time that we, as an education community, do more to protect our children.