Back to School in 2020: How Access Control Can Keep College Campuses Safe

The 2020/2021 academic year will be unlike any other year. Colleges around the country have struggled with their reopening plans. Do they shut down campus for the year, welcome students back (with restrictions), or create a hybrid model of in-person and online classes? In an ongoing survey of nearly 3,000 higher education institutions run by The Chronicle of Higher Education and Davidson College’s College Crisis Initiative (C2i), colleges’ reopening models vary. As of August 31, 19% plan to open primarily in person, 27% plan to open primarily online, and 16% plan to use a hybrid model. Only 2.3% plan to open fully in person and 6% will be fully online. But a quarter of schools — 24% — are still undecided. Some colleges are even making the decision to reopen in real-time. In August, just one week after over 5,000 students moved in, UNC-Chapel Hill announced that they would be cancelling all in-person classes and moving all their classes online.Beyond CDC recommended measures of face masks, hand sanitizer, and social distancing, university administrators, faculty, and staff working to reimagine campus life should consider the crucial role technology like cloud access control tech can play in safeguarding the students and staff who are returning to campuses this fall. Here are three ways access control can help keep campuses safe during the COVID-19 pandemic.


Mobile self-screening questions

Colleges who have welcomed students back to campus are monitoring their population’s health on a daily basis using self-screening questionnaires. Cloud access control tech like Brivo Mobile Pass helps universities identify students with COVID symptoms and prevents them from entering populated campus buildings. If students pass the questionnaire, they are given permission to pass through the checkpoint — such as a locked door — controlling access to different areas of campus to individuals that meet health and safety guidelines.

mobile self screening questions


Contact reporting

Open campuses will be a thing of the past for a while. But instead of colleges relying on security systems that give access with a tap or swipe of an ID card, mobile access control systems allow students to use an app on their phone to gain access to multiple facilities. Access control tech, such as Brivo Contact Reporting, helps college officials identify individuals who may have come in contact with an infected member of the faculty, staff, or student body. For example, if a student fails their daily self-screening questionnaire for COVID-19 symptoms and ends up testing positive for the virus, campus officials can pull a report that shows results based on the site and date range of when the infected student entered a specific area of campus. This report also tells officials who else was in the building at the same time, so they can inform these individuals that they may have been exposed, giving them the opportunity to get tested. This does not replace official CDC guidelines on contact tracing, of course, but it’s another tool that college campuses can use to help identify possible cases quickly.

contact reporting


Digital visitor reporting

The carefree days of visitors coming and going freely in campus buildings, dorm halls, or the student centers are long gone. But frequent visitors such as delivery personnel or facility management contractors will still be necessary to keep campuses running smoothly. Using digital visitor reporting tools incorporated with access control tech, such as Brivo Visitor Reporting, allows universities to configure their own interactive COVID-19 screening process. When a visitor checks in on campus, they answer a customized questionnaire created by the university. If a visitor responds to a question that could expose the campus to a risk for COVID-19 infection, campus officials are alerted. The university can then take the best appropriate next steps to protect the students, staff, and faculty on campus.

visitor report


Cloud access control technology can help college campuses navigate the 2020/2021 academic year safely

The decision to welcome students back to campus has not been an easy one for colleges around the country. But for campuses that have made that difficult decision to open up, cloud access control technology can enable them to do it as safely as possible. Learn more about facility safety features offered by Brivo including mobile self-screening, personnel control, and user contact reporting. Or schedule a demo today.

college campus

Learn more about Campus Safety in our Access Control Insights.