Electronic Visitor System Installed

Visitors to the school building will now be electronically checked by in a new automated visitor management system meant to increase school security through quicker and more thorough visitor identification.

Before, visitors coming to RHS were required to sign in using a paper and pencil method in the main office. Now, a computer, scanner and printer have been installed to make the process more convenient. The new system requires either a scanned driver’s license or manual input of a visitor’s information, and after their information and visit purpose has been logged, visitors receive a badge to wear the duration of the visit.

The new badges are different than the previous stickers that merely said “Visitor” on them. “These badges say Rockville High School. They’ll say “visitora�� or “parenta�� and have [the visitor’s] name on it,” security team leader Albert Camut said.

This new electronic system makes it easier for administrators and security to keep track of who is in the building and why, something especially important during an emergency.

“The new system provides a more formal and official accounting of all visitors in the building,” Principal Billie-Jean Bensen said. “[It is] tied to some of the police databases so names and addresses will be flagged when personal data is entered.”

Some students and staff express concerns over the fact that visitors still have the choice to go into the office, where the system is, or not go in in the first place.

“Our building is not set up very well,” Camut said. “It’s tough a�� We only have four security personnel so we try to maintain [it].” There are signs set up just beside the doors to the main entrance directing visitors to the main office before going anywhere else, and security personnel keep watch over the area as much as possible.

This electronic system is part of a county initiative called the Capital Improvement Program that began implementation first in elementary and middle schools several years ago and is now being moved into high schools. This is the same program that introduced new security cameras into MCPS schools and access control systems (ACS) in elementary schools to monitor the building entrances.

On top of this, some elementary schools also do not allow visitors into the building at certain times of the day without going into their main offices in the first place, unlike at RHS.

“Back in [Rock Creek Valley] elementary school, the office was connected to the main entrance so anyone who wanted to enter the building had to go through the office,” senior Carolyn Landry said. “There was more control over who could come in.”

The system is nonetheless a part of making checking in visitors a more convenient and informative process, with more information provided to the office staff and administration as well as to anyone who sees the visitor in the hallways. Though the electronic format is meant to take away the time-consuming aspect of signing in with paper and a pencil, adjusting to the new style can take a while.

“The process of getting visitors into the building is taking a little longer a�� but safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance,” Bensen said.