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Contactless Campus: Coordinating a Safe Return to Classes with the Latest School Solutions

Thursday, September 17, 2020

Schools around the world are now facing a new challenge amid the global health pandemic: resuming classes while ensuring the safety of students, teachers and staff alike.

K-12 schools, colleges and universities are all looking for school solutions that can help them return to a learning environment — whether that's in person or virtual — in the safest way possible.

Here are 3 ways school administrators and their students can get back to class safely this fall with the latest school solutions and technology.

Shift to cloud-based administration

1. Shift to cloud-based administration

When districts and universities started shutting down this spring, many needed school solutions that could help them manage their campuses remotely. And whether you plan to reopen this fall in person or online, or are opting for a hybrid version of both, moving your administration and program solutions to the cloud is the smart way to ensure the safety of everyone on and off campus.

Look for web-based platforms that can help you provide superior student experiences, a secure and PCI compliant environment, above all, safe and healthy environments where students can focus on learning. For K-12, that means school solutions that make it easy to accept payments for school-related fees, simplify administrative tasks, communicate important news to parents and students and enable them to easily sign-up for school programs. For higher education, that means school solutions that simplify campus payments, transform campus access and interaction, support the business office and help run you run your institution more efficiently.

Modernize the dining and payment experience

2. Modernize the dining and payment experience

For schools reopening in person or in a hybrid fashion, cafeteria and dining options will need to be addressed. At the K-12 level, traditionally school meals have been paid for using cash, and many parents still prefer to give their students cash for those meals. However, today's health and social distancing guidelines will make collecting these payments in the serving line a challenge for schools of any size. Likewise, at the collegiate level, campuses have historically used cash or physical cards to swipe for dining payment, creating obstacles for higher education institutions looking to adhere to health and social distancing guidelines.

Although planning for a school year that looks completely different than anything we have ever seen before is tricky, schools can smoothly transition everything from payments, building access, student IDs, meal planning and adminstrative tasks to virtual environments and applications.

With school solutions like easy-to-use mobile apps for K-12, both parents and students can enjoy the convenience and flexibility of one account to securely pay for all of their school meals without having to handle cash. That way, students can move through the serving line as quickly as possible. Additionally, schools can implement advanced meal ordering technology to give parents the ability to pre-order meals for their students for a quick grab-and-go experience.

As for higher education, colleges and universities should look for dining school solutions that can accept mobile and digital wallet payments to minimize physical contact between students and staff. They can also look at offering contactless dining to manage dining hall volume. Schools can create their own dining app or use a solution like TouchNet OneCard to tap into a variety of dining options like taking reservations to control capacity, ordering ahead so students can pick up their food and dine elsewhere and providing delivery services to help students maintain a safe social distance.

Embrace campus access solutions and contactless payments

3. Embrace campus access solutions and contactless payments

Particularly in college and university environments where student IDs are key to gaining access to facilities like the dorm, gym, campus buildings and stores, tap-and-go credentialing has never been more important to help ensure safety. This experience is facilitated by NFC or near-field communication technology and allows students to turn their smartphones into mobile IDs to gain entry quickly and securely. Contrary to common concerns, mobile IDs can be more secure than physical cards. ID security is built into smartphones, since mobile credentials lie behind numerical lock codes or biometric security features such as face or fingerprint recognition.

This same NFC technology can be used to facilitate contactless payments to reduce the handling of cash for school-related fees like textbooks, meal plans and items from the campus store.

A school year all to its own

Although it's tricky to plan for a school year that looks completely different than anything we have ever seen before, schools can smoothly transition everything from payments, building access, student IDs, meal planning and administrative tasks to virtual environments and applications. Today's students are digital natives who are already familiar with using technology as a way of life, making adoption quick and easy.

For additional resources to help you plan for and return to the school year safely:

Global Payments' K-12 payment and technology software, School Solutions, has created a Back to School Resource Center with everything you need to get ready for the new school year.

Global Payments' higher education solutions, TouchNet, has all the resources to help you create a Contactless Campus at colleges and universities.