Quick-fix lockdown practices can actually endanger students

Parents can take a role in helping to protect their children at school. Upon entering the classroom on their next visit, they should look to see if the classroom is protected. Here is what they should check.

When it comes to classroom security, it’s imperative that teachers and staff can lock doors promptly for their protection and that of students. There are many ways to lock a classroom door. Unfortunately, too many of the security and lockdown solutions employed today actually put staff and students at risk. It’s important for school administrators, emergency personnel and parents to know which methods are effective and which should be avoided.

 A very important warning – it is about 30,000 times more likely that a student or staff will experience a non-fatal violent or seriously violent crime in school than will experience a fatal active assailant.* Thus, while protecting students and staff from a violent intruder, schools must also protect them from more likely causes of harm which could range from student on student or student on teacher violence.

 In 2010, there were approximately 828,000 nonfatal victimizations at schools among students 12 to 18 years of age.* Approximately 7 percent of teachers report that they have been threatened with injury or physically attacked by a student from their school.*

These practices put people in danger.

Check your school for:

  • Door hardware that forces an individual to step out of the room to lock the door, exposing that person to the intruder or conflict in the hallway.
  • Hardware with “unrestricted ability” to lock or unlock the door. This lets anyone – including students – take control of an opening.
  • Magnets or tape on the door to prevent latching. Not only is this a code violation if the door is fire-rated but, in lockdowns, one wants the door to latch without having to open the door first.
  • School doors that don’t automatically close or are propped open, potentially preventing them from being in a ready position during an emergency lockdown.
  • Security devices that are not permanently attached to the door, requiring staff to locate and attach the device in the midst of a lockdown emergency where seconds count and physical and emotional stress is extreme.
  • Hardware that slows or prevents egress during an emergency situation.
  • Devices which attach to the door closer arm to prevent the door from being opened.  This is a violation of the egress codes.
  • Floor bolts or other devices that obstruct the door and don't let it close.
  • Anything that prohibits entrance or restricts the normal function of the door hardware by emergency responders.
  • Any option that might be accessed or used by an unauthorized person acting with ill-intent. This could be a student, visitor or another staff member.

The Right Lockdown Solution

Contrary to those "quick fix" solutions, when selecting security hardware and establishing protocol within a school, there are several aspects that should be considered. They include the severity of the risk, the probability of the risk, effectiveness of mitigating the risk, ability of staff to implement lockdown and budget.

There are three types of lockdown hardware:

Manual lockdown

  • Keys manually lock down a room or space.
  • Most economical of lockdown solutions.

Remote lockdown

  • Localized solution for schools that want to upgrade without cost of a networked system.
  • Lockdown activated by a remote fob within proximity of the door.

Centralized lockdown

  • Integrated with access control software.
  • Doors throughout a building or campus are locked from a central location.

More Security, Less Risk

Regardless of a school’s available budget, there are always safety measures that can be taken to minimize threats of violence. There are avenues to fund door hardware upgrades that will provide the right type of security for any school today. In addition to state and federal grants, many schools take advantage of the federal government’s Cooperative Purchasing program to secure discounted pricing and pre-vetted vendors. These options help schools make decisions that will enhance security and mitigate risk.

For information on protecting K-12 schools, go to us.allegion.com/industries/education/solutions/K12schools/Pages/default.aspx