WATERTOWN – Gone are the days of connecting to Watertown City School District buildings with pen and paper.
Starting this school year, visitors will experience a new way to register and be checked before being allowed access to the main parts of the schools.
The district now uses the Raptor Visitor Management System at all schools to enhance campus safety for students and staff. Part of student and staff safety is knowing who is in buildings at all times, and the Raptor system will allow the district to do that more efficiently, according to district officials.
The new system will electronically log visitors in and out, print visitor badges, check everyone against the National Sex Offender Registry and provide real-time alerts to offenders.
The Raptor system verifies the visitor’s name and date of birth for comparison against a national database of registered sex offenders, the only official database verified by the Raptor system. No other data from the ID is collected or recorded and the information is not shared with any outside agency. The Raptor system will also check for court-issued custody orders, restraining orders, and other custom alerts set by the district.
“Toward the end of the school year, we had a person in this community who was 18, who looked like a high school kid, who got into high school and shouldn’t have been there,” said Superintendent Patricia B. LaBarr. . “I think that would stop anybody who’s not supposed to be there but maybe looks like the age group. All the entrepreneurs too, there’s a whole vetting process for that. If the system flags something, somebody a gives information that opens a file on someone who is not him, staff are told what to do and there are systems in place to know what to do next in terms of things like conflicts of keep.
Ms. LaBarr, who is retiring Aug. 31, said the district will begin posting messages on ParentSquare about the Raptor system sometime next week, and there’s information about it on the district’s website. district with the district safety plan.
When visitors approach a buildings main entrance, they will press the buzzer attached to an outdoor camera and be asked why they are visiting. Upon answering, they will be prompted through a first set of doors and enter a secure vestibule. Visitors will then be asked to show photo ID such as a driver’s license or passport. The ID will either be scanned or manually entered into the system at a secure transaction window in the lobby.
Once authorized, visitors will proceed to the main office to collect their ID and a pre-printed badge with their photo on it, along with their destination. They will then be directed to their destination and must wear their printed badge at all times in the building. Upon leaving the building, visitors are required to return to the main office, return their badge and log out.
If for some reason a parent or guardian does not have a US government-issued ID, the school staff member may use an alternate photo ID. In this case, the visitor must present their non-governmental photo ID as well as a second piece of ID with their name on it, such as a bank card or credit card. As long as the district has two pieces of ID, one with a photo, they can manually enter the person’s name into the Raptor system. If a visitor does not have a valid ID accepted by the District, or if they refuse to present their ID, no access to the building will be allowed.
For parents or guardians simply dropping something off for their child at the office, the same process will be followed, but a visitor badge will not be required for those visiting schools simply to drop off an item at the office or pick up papers like they must leave the building immediately.
“When I started in this position, it took State ED two years to approve the plan,” Ms. LaBarr said. “So it’s been five years in the making, we’re almost done now. I would say the majority of the work has taken place in the last two years.
With the first day of school on September 6, staff who will be at the scouting stations will arrive before school starts to practice and get used to the new system. While all schools will be using the Raptor system, Starbuck and Ohio Elementary Schools do not have a secure vestibule for check-ins, so workarounds will be implemented to maintain security during the process.
The Raptor system, worth an estimated $25,000, was paid for as part of a $3.6 million grant from the state’s Smart Schools Bond Act, one of several safety measures put in place. implemented with funding.
Other measures include updated phone systems that alert select district staff via text and email when 911 is dialed and provide locations so staff can check the scene quickly; and blue lights in all buildings and outdoors, so if the school is closed or in an emergency, the lights will alert those in the buildings. The doors close automatically when triggered, and when the blue lights come on, it sends text and email alerts, and the intercom system is linked to it. There are also panic buttons that automatically connect to 911 throughout the district.
Ms. LaBarr said all of the doors in each building have also been numbered as part of the district’s safety initiative, starting with the main door at one and clockwise around the building, which which can help locate people based on door number. near. Ms. LaBarr also noted that if a door is ajar, alarms will sound after a period of time, and texts and emails will be sent to essential people like the school resource manager, building managers and school staff. maintenance.
“All doors are now locked, so you can’t get in and out without an employee with a badge,” said Jeffrey A. Wood, director of technology, cybersecurity and innovation for the district. “The main entrance is the only place visitors can enter. After school events, we’re not going to screen everyone as that would be monumental, so it’s usually when the kids are in session. S’ there is an event during the day, we plan to get a list of people who will attend the screening.
Mr Wood said all doors are locked during the day except schools when arriving and departing.
Students filter through the main gates and whenever this happens there are district personnel at these gates watching who is coming. Parents must come and be checked in and once arrival is complete everyone except staff must go through the main gates to check in.
With improved district intercom systems, announcements can now be made by telephone, located in all buildings. For those who can’t hear announcements, blue lights will also flash in public areas to alert people around to anything that’s going on. The neighborhood has also had Wi-Fi upgrades that can allow law enforcement to mount and view camera systems while in parking lots.
“Like anything new to a district, there are always growing pains,” Ms. LaBarr said. “It’s a new process for people and we understand that when there’s a change it’s sometimes uncomfortable for people, but if we stay focused that it’s for the safety of the students, it should put an end to all discussion.”
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