How To Manage Operations With Reduced Personnel During School Breaks

Picture of Mary Kate McGrath By Mary Kate McGrath

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How To Manage Operations With Reduced Personnel During School BreaksThe summer months can result in a lull in activity for campus safety teams. After the end of the academic year, which includes finals, commencement, and other major events, college and university campuses are likely to have a quiet period. Students move on to internships, jobs, and off-campus pursuits. Faculty leave campus to pursue career development and other academic training. Given this slow in campus activity, many higher education institutions may choose to reduce safety personnel during the summer months. The school is unlikely to shut down completely, however, and campus managers must be prepared to manage safety with a smaller team.

During the summer, many higher education institutions offer a limited course offerings for students looking to make up credits or get ahead of their academic schedule. If a college or university is likely to have students on campus during the break, it’s critical that campus police understand how big summer interim programs are will be and how best to manage security with less personnel.

In addition to the roster of summer courses, many colleges, and universities host summer camps and other unaffiliated programs. Pre-college programs for high schoolers looking to get a head start on university coursework or get a feel for college life are also common. 

Both pre-college programs and summer camps bring young people to campus to explore college courses across academic fields, participate in sports training using college athletic facilities, and young kids come under the supervision of day camps while parents are at work. This means that most of the campus facilities are still being utilized, and a summer safety plan must be comprehensive, even when fewer officers or security guards are available. 

The unique challenges of managing safety during summer programming for colleges and universities often include temporary summer students, ongoing summer construction projects, or day visitors touring the campus. Managing these challenges will fewer personnel available is difficult, but with planning it's possible to be prepared to meet this challenge. 

How To Make The Most Of Summer Safety Personnel

Even though the campus will be quieter, it’s still essential for security managers to make sure buildings are secure and those working in and around campus are safe. Guests are likely to make up the majority of foot traffic on campus during summer, and ensuring these people have access to campus safety or local law enforcement should be a priority. Briefing any guests or visitors on campus on safety best practices during pre-college or summer camp orientation will ensure these visitors will know how to reach out during an emergency if needed over the duration of their stay. 

Managing physical security is necessary for preventing theft, vandalism, or other property damage, which the school may be susceptible to during the school break. A system of security cameras can help a reduced team keep an eye on areas on campus with low visibility, and the presence of the cameras may act as a deterrent in itself. Access-control for campus facilities via student or faculty IDs will also remain critical, as this technology secures residence halls and keeps students utilizing campus resources during the school break safe. 

In order to make the most out of the personnel on campus during the summer months, it is essential each worker understands their role. Training is essential for informing personnel on campus of their role over the break. In the same way visitors or summer students should be briefed during orientation, campus safety officers and security managers should understand who is on campus and what facilities are being utilized, as well as the proper protocol in the instance of an emergency. 

Campus safety managers can also take advantage of the summer months by using the down-period as an opportunity to reevaluate current systems. The off-months are an opportunity to look at the tools and training available to campus safety teams, and evaluate if these are working well for the whole team. If an emergency notification system is not reaching the full potential, for example, the quiet period is the perfect time to test and implement new capability. 

Leveraging Technology To Manage Safety During The Summer Session

During a period where less personnel are available to patrol or respond to emergencies, there are several ways safety managers can bolster security by leveraging technology. SMS Opt-In can be a valuable tool for managing safety during the summer session. The tool acts as an expansion of the campus mass notification system by letting members of the institution and visiting guests to opt-in to receive alerts using SMS and an assigned keyword for your institution. This can help manage safety in several ways over the break - allowing everyone from pre-college and camp attendees to touring students and parents to receive critical emergency notifications. 

A campus safety app can also be a key tool for managing safety for students who are on campus for summer courses. The app allows the user to reach campus safety directly. Students can also set a safety timer when traveling between locations, letting a designated guardian know if they do not arrive on time. This can provide an extra layer of safety during the months where fewer officers may be patrolling campus. The app will reduce response times during an emergency situation.The app also offers access to campus resources - if a summer or pre-college student or camp attendee is unsure how to reach out to campus safety, the health center, or other resources, the app can direct them to the correct contact information. 

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Mary Kate McGrath

Written by Mary Kate McGrath

Mary Kate is a content specialist and social media manager for the Rave Mobile Safety team. She writes about public safety for the state & local and education spheres.

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