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Ditch Paper Passes and Go Digital: 3 Ways Your Kids and Teachers Benefit

August 11, 2023
7 min
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The gym rattles while a sea of students swarm the stands, chanting their school’s name. The entire staff and student population are all in one place. One teacher settles into a seat. And then it starts: several students ask to use the bathroom. And they aren't just asking one teacher—they're asking the first teacher they see. Each teacher says "yes," and now there are 17 kids in the hallway in front of the closest bathroom, plus a handful of others scattered about the building as they look for another place to go. Meanwhile, the gym gets louder and louder as the disruption of the regular school day gives kids a chance to socialize and join in on games and rallying cries. Nearly all the school's adults are there to manage the chaos. 

If you're an educator, you already know what's happening here. Yep—the pep rally.

SNL, Craig and Ariana, Spartan Cheerleaders

Pep rallies are great experiences for building school culture and community. They can also be massive logistical headaches that lead to chaos in the hallways And, any educator will tell you, those headaches are limited to pep rallies. School hallways have always been a breeding ground for disruptive behavior among students. While students see restroom breaks and visits to the library as a welcome escape from the classroom, many are prone to pushing those liberties to the point where disruption of teaching and learning becomes an unintended consequence. And, any educator will tell you that some students also use hall passes as a tick to intentionally harmful behaviors.

Rather than a ushering in rallying cry for stricter rules on when and where students may roam, many schools are seeing the upside to software that helps educators manage student movement.  With streamlined approvals, reduced workload for teachers and staff, and improved communication, digital hall passes are having their day. 

SmartPass, originated by students working with school building leaders, has emerged as the leading innovator when it comes to helping schools manage student movement and safety with digital hall passes and student IDs.

There are three main reasons why digital hall passes and IDs help school districts: 

  • Enhancing attendance tracking
  • Maximizing time management
  • Strengthen school safety and security measures.

3 Ways Kids and Adults Gain from Digital Hall Passes

#1 Attendance Tracking

Chronic student absenteeism is an increasingly big issue in school systems, which means districts need increasingly powerful systems to record student absences in detail. This helps school administrators understand absence rates and key trends impacting those absences.

Learning Management Systems (LMS) and Student Information Systems (SIS) can be used to track attendance, but they don't eliminate the long line of students at the attendance office for late arrivals and early dismissals. Nor do they give up-to-the-minute information about student arrival and dismissal times, meaning that the attendance data on hand is incomplete at best 

SmartPass Attendance helps schools easily capture attendance data and works alongside your SIS, allowing teachers to automate attendance in the SmartPass app. Timestamps for students who arrive late are automatically accounted for, and the data gets exported to your SIS, allowing everyone to get the most accurate attendance data possible.

Schools can also enable SmartPass Kiosks to take attendance. Students type in their student ID number (or scan their digital ID) to sign in. That long line snaking out of the attendance office moves faster than ever as students check in and head to their destinations.

With SmartPass’ digital student IDs, the process of signing in or out of school has never been easier or more accurate. Students scan their IDs from their phones or 1:1 devices to sign in and out. These IDs can also identify students attending after-school events, including:

  • homecoming dances
  • sporting events
  • musical performances
  • and more

all while keeping uninvited guests out.

This data helps administrators plan for large-scale events. They can use SmartPass’ metrics to meet staffing, safety, and capacity requirements. Digital IDs help schools streamline their processes while providing accurate, up-to-the-minute attendance records.

#2 Time Management

Digital hall passes enable students to get where they need to go without wasting precious class time. In the past, a student asked for a pass by

  • signing out quietly on paper and exiting with a massive wooden block/random object (my personal favorite was a traffic cone my colleague once used)
  • interrupting the classroom flow by asking the teacher
  • some combination of the two.

But these sign-out procedures place unnecessary burdens on the teacher. The teacher needs to know which students are out of the room while trying to maintain classroom management and rigorous instruction. It’s a lot. There’s a better way to do this.

Digital passes foster intentional student movement and streamline clunky classroom processes. Students and teachers can create passes on SmartPass from any device in mere seconds. While students are gone from the classroom, teachers are aware of their student’s movement — destination and expected return time — without the hassle of interrupted learning time. This ultimately expands teachers' capacity by taking one thing off of a teacher's heavy workload. Teachers can spend more time teaching and less time managing paperwork.

Plus, administrators have a dashboard to display key metrics and analytics for enhanced school situational awareness. Administrative updates to student information, like pass limits and special accommodations, get pushed to teachers instantly, keeping them in the know without extra work. 

With this increased transparency, students can spend more time learning instead of leaving. SmartPass ensures that instructional time is well spent for both students and teachers.

#3 School Safety And Security

Unfortunately, schools continue to see high instances of violence. In 2022, for instance, the U.S. saw more school shootings than any year since 1999. Lockdown drills are de rigueur for schools these days, but that doesn’t make them any less demanding when it comes to knowing with certainty where students are or have been approved to go.

During a lockdown drill or a real emergency, SmartPass adds an extra layer of safety and security. SmartPass’ reporting capabilities empower school administrators to create instant reports of students outside of their classrooms and their destinations. Now, when students leave a classroom, teachers and administrators have a system to know where students are intended to be during school-wide incidents. The student out-of-class feature enables reporting on where they are approved to go, and school staff can account for the student and notify the rest of the staff. This helps administrators and first responders to provide immediate support to students in unknown or unsafe locations.

With Emergency Mode, this reporting goes one step further. If there’s any kind of school emergency, administrators can place their building into Emergency Mode with 1 click. No students can request passes. Administrators can send messages out to teachers and see live updates to student location check-ins.

And while school shootings are still rare, there is an increase in student violence and misbehavior, including vaping. With SmartPass, schools have a way to mitigate these behavior issues on an everyday basis, leading to safer, healthier hallways for everyone, through a key feature called Encounter Prevention. Administrators can prevent students from being in the hallways at the same time by creating a group of students in SmartPass. When one student in a prevention group requests a pass and leaves their location, other students in that group will not be able to request passes at the same time (though they can be automatically added to a waiting list). This is especially helpful for students in conflict. Or, if there are vaping issues, administrators can use SmartPass to identify patterns related to student restroom passes that inform policy and fortify communications with students and their families.

With popular TikTok challenges encouraging student misbehaviors, schools have also seen a surge in bathroom and school vandalism. One Nantucket high school shared that they have spent over $100,000 in repairs to their plumbing systems because of student vandalism. With SmartPass’ reporting features, administrators can determine which students were nearby when vandalism happens and address it.

Digital Passes And IDs Give Districts More Safety And Capacity

Systems that streamline student movement, like SmartPass, provide schools with the right data to assist in their strategic planning. By analyzing student movement and attendance data, administrators can identify trends and patterns to make informed decisions about:

  • scheduling
  • classroom placement
  • access to resources like intervention support 

Ensuring that teachers and students get the support they need to succeed is what school leaders strive for every day, which is why the role of these systems has become integral to ensuring schools has the means and capacity to operate at their best 

SmartPass is a powerful, intuitive platform that helps administrators with build capacity for student attendance, behavior management, and overall safety With SmartPass, administrators spend more time focusing on what really matters—helping their students succeed. All while showing the kids how it’s really done with those boss dance moves at pep rallies.

See what administrators and educators have to say about SmartPass’ impact on their schools now.

Ready to learn more about how SmartPass can give your school the best attendance data, streamline student movement, and improve your campus safety? Get started with a 30-minute demo, here.

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