Classroom Door Security
Life safety and security are important factors for any building or space. Classroom security in schools has been in the spotlight in recent years as we see tragic events taking place across the country that concern educators, parents, children, first responders, government leaders, as well as builders. The common goal we all have is to protect the most precious lives in our society: our young people.
Doors and hardware play a critical role in life safety and security. A door and its hardware can separate occupants from danger, but only if that hardware functions properly. That means the door hardware needs to be selected, installed, and operated correctly. In this blog post we will look at some of the hardware options that aid in classroom door security.
Indicators on Exit Devices
Door lock indicators can help school staff to know visually and instantly if a door is locked. Door hardware manufactures know that when seconds can make all the difference you want your personnel to be able to quickly identify security conditions.Von Duprin manufactures a special exit device case that visually indicates if the outside trim is locked. If it is unlocked, an indicator with an unlocked symbol will show above the case. Stickers are also applied to the case showing which way the key must be turned to lock the trim. In an emergency situation this can help staff think more clearly so they know they are turning the key the right way and then they’ll have visual confirmation that the door is secure.
Von Duprin has another indicator located on the exit device push bar that shows if the dogging is active. Active dogging holds the latch retracted which renders the outside trim unlocked, meaning it can simply be pulled open. If the dogging is inactive, the indicator will show that the outside trim is locked. Employees can quickly and visually check to be sure exit devices are locked.
Indicators on Cylindrical Locks
The typical classroom function on a cylindrical lock has an outside lever with a cylinder that can be locked and unlocked with a key and the inside lever is blank and is always free for egress. A newer and more preferred classroom function has an additional cylinder on the inside lever so that the outside trim can be locked or unlocked with a key from inside and outside. This newer function is more beneficial for staff because they can stay inside the room and lock the outside lever from the inside.
Many cylindrical lock manufacturers can supply this newer classroom function lockset with a special indicator rose on the inside. The rose will have symbols or words with arrows showing which way to turn the key to lock the outside lever. Many locksets can be retrofitted with these indicator roses by replacing the existing trim with this indicator rose trim.
Manufacturers all have unique options available. PDQ, for example, also has a small button that can be pushed to give confirmation on if the outside lever is locked. When the outside lever is locked and the button is pushed a small light will turn red. If the outside lever is not locked, then the light will not turn on when the button is pushed. Without this indicator, an employee may feel the need to open the door and test the outside lever to be sure it is locked. That can be a fatal and unnecessary mistake.
Indicators on Mortise Locks
Schlage, BEST, and many other manufacturers can supply indicators for mortise locks that can show if the the outside trim is locked or unlocked. These are common for bathroom locks but can also be used for classrooms if desired. The benefit of using a mortise lock is that a deadbolt can be added into the same locking mechanism which provides additional strength to the door’s security. This is good for life safety purposes because when the lever is turned to open the door from the inside for egress, the deadbolt will retract along with the standard latchbolt.
Access Control Solutions
Where possible it can be ideal to have an electrical access control system that ties all of the door locks together. If an emergency occurs such as an active shooter scenario, the access control system can send signals to lock down the doors automatically. Access control systems can also monitor doors and keep them on a schedule so that when classes are in session the entrances are properly secured. Many brands are available and can offer several benefits. Talk with a Beacon sales representative to find out what options are available to you.
Barricade Devices: NOT RECOMMENDED
When tragic events such as active shootings occur, the tendency we see is moving toward the use of hardware that completely locks the door down from entry as well as egress. The intention is good but this is a dangerous method for a number of reasons.
First, life safety is at risk. Even though a barricade may prevent the wrong people from getting into the room, these devices may also prevent the right people from getting in (or keep occupants from getting out to safety). Second, bullies may take advantage of these barricade devices by targeting their victims inside a room. By barricading the door the bully will be preventing personnel from entry and can keep the victim from fleeing. Bullying is far more common than active shooter situations.Barricade devices or auxiliary locking devices such as deadbolts are not recommended. Alternative methods, such as those mentioned above, are more appropriate. Barricade devices and auxiliary deadbolts are often selected because they are a quick fix and the way they work is easy to understand. However, people don’t recognize the possible side effects of using these devices.
See the additional links below for helpful resources on these subjects.
When determining which approach is the best for a school, there are many resources available to get the right solution in place. Local authorities, manufacturers, and distributors like Beacon Commercial Door & Lock can help with new or existing circumstances to bring a school up to code and help to create a safe and secure environment. Beacon will help you choose from the best options available and install it. It is worth the time and effort to get it right the first time.
Here are some additional helpful resources:
Door and Hardware 101: Part 4
Oct 5, 2023
Door and Hardware 101: Part 3
Sep 5, 2023
2023 Company Summer Party
Aug 15, 2023
Have a question you want answered? Let us know and we might write our next blog post about it!