At the most basic level, a door lock really only needs to do one thing to be effective: prevent the door from being opened!
While this may seem like a low bar for success, it's true: a door lock should...well, lock doors. However, there are a number of different situations where you'd like your door locks to be capable of a little bit more. Securing doors in a school is one of those situations.
Unfortunately, today's schools need to worry about things like intruders, active shooters or lockdown situations. While we all wish these concerns never needed to enter the minds of today's educators, most schools are adopting a "better safe than sorry" approach that sees them upgrading their existing locks to something more robust.
Keeping unwanted intruders out remains the number-one priority of school door locks, but there are a few additional things that should be taken into consideration when upgrading to a new system.
Go beyond "just keep people out"
There are dozens of different kinds of school door locks out there, from hard-wired locks to wireless locks. While features may differ slightly from one brand to another, most locks meant for use in modern school access control systems will be capable of meeting these dos and don'ts.
A school administrator is going to do a lot of research on a security system before making such a large purchase. However, we've found that people oftentimes are so focused on budget or on getting the "latest and greatest" of whatever's out there that they forget about the basics.
The three items below are meant to help you zero in on what's important when choosing your new school door locks. They'll also help ensure that you don't lose focus on your goal: promoting a positive learning environment by keeping students and staff safe.
DON'T: Prevent people from getting out of a locked room.
Many old-school door locks are the traditional lock-and-key types, where an administrator or security officer will walk around with a key and lock the doors from the outside. It should go without saying, but it's worth the reminder: make sure it's not possible to lock people inside a room.
The vast majority of school doors can remain locked from the outside while still having a handle release on the inside, mainly due to building or fire codes. However, if a school has doors that have deadbolts or similar locks, there are situations where a locked door can, for example, prevent egress in an emergency.
These cases are rare, but they're dangerous enough that they should be addressed immediately.
Takeaway: Ensure that all of your door locks, including smart locks, can be opened from the inside.
DO: Have some method of remote control over your doors.
In an emergency, every second matters. The unfortunate reality is that the longer it takes to lock doors, the more dangerous the situation becomes.
For that reason, having some kind of remote control over your locks offers a huge security boost. Whether it's the ability to lock a door from a smartphone or the ability to lock all doors with the press of a button, having remote control over your locks will save time, and potentially save lives.
Takeaway: Remote control over your locks offers increased security by allowing you to respond to incidents more quickly.
DON'T: Require a person to leave the room in order to lock the door.
In the event of a lockdown, the most common practice is to have people shelter in place. This helps prevent confusion in common areas like hallways or lobbies while also allowing for a more targeted emergency response.
It's important to make it as easy as possible for teachers and other personnel to lock their classroom doors during a lockdown. If you already have remote control over your locks as discussed above, this is a non-issue.
However, as counterintuitive as it may seem, there are some locks that are designed to be locked only by outside personnel, like security officers. These locks require someone outside the door to engage them, whether it's by turning a key or pressing a button.
These locks create an obvious security issue: you don't want personnel to have to be out in hallways during an emergency.
Takeaway: Locks that require someone outside the room to engage them are inefficient and create unnecessary risk for your personnel.
When it comes to upgrading your school security system, you don't have to go it alone! IDenticard Access Control has decades of experience providing cutting-edge solutions to schools of all sizes.
From integration with video surveillance systems to lockdown solutions for crash-bar doors, we have what you need to keep your students and staff safe — and we're happy to offer you a free consultation!