9 tips for how to behave as a visitor in schools
by Paul Kazlauskas
School administrators must develop policies to manage visitors in their building. After all, schools are not public places where just anyone can enter. The safety and security of students and school staff must be taken into account.
As a visitor, you can do your part as well. Please see our list below of best practices for how to behave as a visitor in schools.
1. If you have an appointment, show up on time. Most likely, you aren’t the only person who has a meeting with your host that day. Showing up late could cause your meeting to run over any allotted time and potentially cause the future meetings for the day to be late. Your host will be annoyed. Any tardiness will also cause them to apologize for the rest of the day for something they didn’t do.
2. If you don’t have an appointment, expect to be asked who you are and why you need to see a particular person. The questions are not out of curiosity or rudeness. School security is important business and there are protocols in place for a reason. In addition, any person’s productivity will decrease when they are interrupted, so you must be polite and answer the receptionist’s questions if you have any hope of an impromptu meeting with someone who isn’t expecting you. If you are denied access to an impromptu meeting, graciously accept the decision.
3. Don’t wear perfume or cologne. A strong scent can be nauseating and uncomfortable. Refrain from using perfume or cologne before your visit. The same applies to smoking. If you have to smoke, wait till the visit is over before lighting up.
4. When entering the school building, it is a good idea to silence your mobile devices. A ringing or other notification sound can be very distracting during a meeting.
5. Follow school sign-in protocols. Always follow the school’s sign-in procedures when arriving at the school building. This should be done even if you are a parent who is a regular visitor. This should be done even if the entire staff knows you. If the sign-in process is manually done, be sure to print your information legibly on a sign-in book or visitor badge. If the visitor registration process is electronic, provide all necessary information when asked (or by scanning your driver’s license).
6. Wear a visitor badge if the school requires you to. If the school policy is to wear a visitor badge on the school grounds, place the badge in an area that is visible. Any staff member that encounters you in the building (as a stranger to them) will realize you are supposed to be there and are an authorized visitor because you have been identified.
7. After signing in, go to your destination without wandering around. If you were to wander as a guest, you could be going to a part of the building you aren’t authorized to be in, despite having signed in already.
8. When your visit is over, stop at the front desk/lobby, so the school knows you’ve left the building. In case of an emergency or evacuation, the school will use their visitor management tool (whether it’s a sign-in book or a visitor management system) to alert first responders as to who is still in the building. In addition, if there is a security incident at the school on the day you visited, the school will look at their visitor log to know who was in the building at the particular time of the incident as part of their investigation.
9. Follow the school’s visitor exit protocols. Does the school you are visiting collect your visitor badge before you leave? Are you required to sign out/check out? Are you wearing any visitor badge accessories, besides the badge, that should be given back (ex. badge tag, strap clip, lanyard)?
Many of these tips are common sense. However, it doesn’t hurt to remind ourselves about visitor etiquette when in a school. Especially when that etiquette can affect school security.
What other best practice behaviors should a visitor demonstrate when visiting a school? Please add your thoughts in the “Comments” section below.
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Posted on 11/12/2018