Springfield, Ore., Schools Update ID Security Systems

Visitors to Springfield Public Schools will no longer be asked to sign in with pen and paper. An ID-scanning system is being rolled out to give officials better information about visitors prohibited from school grounds.

by Jordyn Brown, The Register-Guard / December 11, 2019

(TNS) — Visitors to Springfield schools may have noticed a new, higher-tech system for signing in lately, and if they haven't yet they will see it soon enough.

This year, all of Springfield Public Schools' buildings are in the process of retiring their pen-and-paper method for signing in visitors. The district is integrating ID-scanning technology to increase security and school safety. Under the new system, schools will have immediate access to any information that should prohibit visitors from being in the school, such as if they are a registered sex offender.

"Across our district we had relatively consistent (processes), but sometimes different from building to building," said district spokeswoman Jenna McCulley.

The majority of schools relied on pen and paper sign-in sheets to know who was in the school, which made keeping track of who was in the buildings difficult.

"It was a start but our hope was to be more consistent across our sites of tracking that and making sure we had a record of who was in our buildings," she said. "(Now) if there was ever an incident at our school we would be able to confirm that everyone was accounted for."

With the new system, when parents or community members come into the school's front office they are asked for their government-issued ID that is scanned. The system runs the ID against important databases such as the National Sex Offender Registry.

It's still in the pilot phase, so the technology is being gradually rolled out to schools this year. Eight out of 22 district schools have the technology so far: Academy of Arts and Academics, Douglas Gardens Elementary, Ridgeview Elementary, Thurston Elementary, Hamlin Middle School, Springfield High, Thurston High and Gateways High School.

McCulley said she anticipates the program will be online in all schools by the end of the year.

School safety is top of mind for educators across the country as they look to prevent issues such as active threats on campus. The Oregon Healthy Teen Survey reported that in "In 2017, more than 9% of eighth graders reported not going to school at least one day in the previous 30 days due to safety concerns."

Oregon formed a Task Force on School Safety in 2014 to address these safety concerns. Findings presented to state lawmakers in 2019 showed that many of the safety threats students face are internal — bullying and harassment, drug use and thoughts of suicide topped the list. From January 2017 to November 2018, the state received 139 reports of threats of planned school attacks, though this number also includes duplicate reports for individual planned threats.

While district officials want people in the community to feel welcome coming into their schools, at the same time they want to have the "additional layer of security" that this technology provides, McCulley said.

The system follows other updates made throughout the district, including new locks on doors that lock easier from the inside and a buzzer system requiring people to press a button and state their purpose before being let into a school.

This layered security approach at Springfield is in line with what many schools around the country are doing and what the Department of Education recommends.

"Effective security plans use a layered approach across all three areas of a school: entry points, the building envelope (e.g., walls, roofs, windows, doors), and the classroom," according to a December 2018 report by the Federal Commission on School Safety.

Springfield families should hear from their school when it will integrate the new sign-in system, McCulley said.

©2019 The Register-Guard (Eugene, Ore.) Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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