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Keeping teachers and students safe with your schools printing

Safety has always been important for schools. This involves stuff like data security (which we’ve covered in more detail over here ), but also the physical welfare of students, teachers and staff.

With COVID mostly in the rear-view mirror, we need to think about printing, and how it relates to public health. After all, printing is one of the last physical touch points in a digital world. We still need it, and we still need to do it safely.

When it comes to printing, there are three focus areas for protecting your school:

  1. Touch-free printing
  2. Avoiding congestion at the printer
  3. Simple enablement for printing from home

Wherever you are, and wherever you work, sysadmins need tools to deploy safety measures rapidly and flexibly, depending on their school’s individual needs.

PaperCut features like Find-Me printing and tools like PaperCut Mobility Print will tick off all three of these safety requirements. But let’s look at some other things you can do to make your school’s print environment safer.

Understanding the risks of print security

The two big risks with school printing are data breaches and germ transmission at the MFD. Both pose a risk to students and staff, and both require slightly different solutions. If your school has a 3D printer, there may also be the risk of burns, emissions, and ultrafine particles. ( 3D printing is its own particular can of resin-based worms.)

The important thing is to recognise that school print rooms and MFDs can be risky – the trick is to anticipate the risks and put control measures in place.

Implementing secure print practices in schools

IT security in schools is pretty standard, and we’re guessing you already have an IT team monitoring network access. But don’t neglect your print environment, especially if you’re using cloud-enabled printing via the internet. It’s an obvious attack vector for hackers, and it’s a common vulnerability in school systems, particularly with hundreds of users, different devices flying all over the place, and students printing from home via their WIFI router.

Here are a few tips for implementing secure print practices in schools:

1. Implement access controls. To start, you need to restrict print access by implementing user authentication systems. Preferably at every step – print job creation and print release. This ensures only authorized students and staff can access printing resources.

2. Teach the basics. Makes sense in a school, right? A print environment is only ever as safe as its users, so make sure students and staff are all trained in safe printing practices. This includes data security and physical safety. Make posters for your print room with simple dot points that students can follow.

3. Use print quotas. This is good advice for several reasons (not least cost!) but it’s also a handy safety measure. Print quotas help prevent excessive printing, which reduces the risk of sensitive information being left unattended at the MFD. You can also educate students and staff to minimize unnecessary print jobs.

4. Think digital. It’s a good idea to promote the use of digital documents wherever you can. This might mean investing in some digital collaboration tools, like Slack or Google Classroom. Sometimes printing will be necessary, but for everything else, chances are good you can just use an app.

Enhancing print security through print management software

So how does print management software help print security? A few ways. Print management software is all about getting control over your print workflow. And the more control you have, the more you can alleviate the risks of school printing – both the digital and the physical.

Here’s how print management can make school printing safer:

1. Touch-free print release. In a post-COVID world, touch-free secure print release is more important than ever. MFD touchpads are a huge vector for germ transmission – just think of how many fingers touch them every day – so let’s find a better way. With print management software, you can release jobs securely using a swipe card, mobile print release, or fast release terminals. Much cleaner.

2. Avoid congestion at the MFD. With print management software, like PaperCut, you can implement load balancing to spread your print jobs around. This helps prevent print jobs clogging up a single machine, or groups gathering around the same MFD. Printer load balancing can either be done manually, with each user picking a printer that’s free, or automatically via Find-Me Printing .

3. Print from home where you can. You can use PaperCut Pocket or PaperCut Hive to track printing in the workplace AND at home. It’s easy to set up and just requires the mobile app to release home printouts. [h2]Continuously monitor and evaluate print security

Print security in schools isn’t a static thing. It should change with the needs of the organization and the latest trends in print technology. As such, it’s good to get into the habit of continuous evaluation. Annual audits are good, but quarterly or monthly checks are even better. You can read more about print auditing over here , but essentially, you should be checking: how much your users are printing, whether or not they’re printing efficiently, how much it’s costing you, and what (if anything) you can do to make your print environment safer.

For more information about print security in schools, give our friendly team a call . We can recommend a print management solution that’s right for you.


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