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Schools to institute new safety procedures for visitor entry

Given tragic occurrences across our country, school safety continues to be at the forefront of community concerns.

While some incidents are committed by students, others have been committed by outsiders who gain access to school buildings. Durango School District 9-R’s most recent school safety inclusion, that of a visitor management system, is designed to reduce exposure while ensuring that visitors are safe and accounted for.

By the end of this month, on their first visit to schools, guests will be asked to produce identification that includes their official picture, name and date of birth. The system will use that information to produce a visitor badge that states a specific destination, while simultaneously scanning the sexual offender registry. A visitor who appears on such a register will either be escorted while on campus if they have legitimate business at school or not permitted access to school. All information is stored on a confidential server, no additional background check is conducted and no information is shared outside of Durango 9-R, as all registry comparisons take place internally.

After visitors’ initial visit to a building, front office staff will be able to confirm visitor identity based on the photo secured previously from the official ID. Visitors’ names and dates of birth are compared against updated registries every visit to ensure current information. Anyone who has no connection with a current student and no ID will likely not be permitted into our schools.

Regarding how immigrant friendly the system is, there are alternative guest information options that can be used beyond the requested official photo ID. Visitor name and date of birth will be compared against the sexual offender registry, but again, no other background search occurs. Additionally, our system has been shown to work with foreign IDs as well as those domestically produced. We continue to streamline our practices to make it easier and safer for parents to visit their child’s school in our effort to see many of our families engaging in school activities.

The system also allows tracking of court orders for custody so that individuals who have restrictions from accessing students will be identified at check in. These court orders are entered based on their availability to the school and require partnership with our families for that to be an effective safeguard. Often, schools receive a temporary restraining order, which is seldom followed up with a permanent order, so provision of any and all such legal documentation to schools is essential.

While this effort is meant to protect our schools from external threats and ensure tracking of visitors, it by no means constitutes our entire strategy. Students continue to be encouraged to report concerns through Safe2Tell as they hear or see things that could pose potential threats. Through partnerships with our law enforcement authorities, any such concern or threat is immediately investigated.

Safety measures often lead to some inconvenience on the part of parents and other visitors. I assure you a little inconvenience is well worth the safety of our students, and I welcome any questions or suggestions as we continue to explore enhanced safety measures.

Email Durango School District 9-R Superintendent Dan Snowberger at dsnowberger@durango.k12.co.us.