Physical attacks on K–12 schools have been a growing source of anxiety for school administrators, teachers, and parents alike.
As a result of the instances that have occurred over the past two decades, school districts are understandably looking for new methods to safeguard their students and personnel against harm.
While one can find many areas of concern during physical security assessments, this article will explore the important but often overlooked component: classroom door hardware.
Ensuring the Safety of the School
A learning-friendly classroom must make kids feel safe. With almost 1.4 million incidents of violence, crime, and other threats at schools over the years, it is time to boost campus security. And where better to start than at the doorways everyone must go through.
New Exterior-Door-Lock Requirements in Texas Schools
Following the recent incident in Uvalde, Texas, the state now requires all exterior door locks to be checked before school resumes in the fall. The state will review every entry point at all Texas schools, which includes roughly 340,000 exterior doors. These reviews will be conducted by safety officers with the Texas Education Agency to identify any necessary repairs to ensure security at Texas school campuses. The necessary repairs will focus on any malfunctions of automatic locks and the security of classroom door locks.
The Advantages of Exterior Door Locks
Nowadays, many modern door locks are available for businesses and organizations, including schools. From biometric fingerprint systems to electronic keypads with smart cards allowing authorized personnel to enter and exit the building without hassle, door locks provide added security without additional difficulty. Any authorized user can easily access the building as necessary without the risk of lost keys posing a potential security threat. These same systems can be put in place for individual classrooms as well.
The following are some advantages of installing exterior door locks in schools.
Enhancing safety is one of the most notable benefits of exterior door locks, specifically digital door locks, on your facility. This security feature ensures that attackers or burglars cannot enter the school by picking or breaking the lock, a typical technique of criminals.
Hard To Get Through
Exterior door locks are a visual deterrent for break-ins that keep would-be intruders away. Most attackers are opportunists seeking fast, easy entry into buildings, such as unsecured windows and porous locks. Modern external locks, such as keyless ones, require a card, fingerprint, or code to open, making them much more difficult to defeat than mechanical ones requiring a key.
Easy Monitoring and Secure Access
Only authorized individuals, such as the school’s school personnel, can enter a building after it has been secured with modern exterior door locks. In some circumstances, a keyless lock might be your best choice if you want to limit access to particular parts of the school.
Access Control Systems
Access control systems ensure that entrance to school buildings and other facilities is secure against trespassers. Security access control is provided through networked door locks, monitored gate entry systems, fingerprint sensors, and facial recognition technologies to ensure that only those with proper credentials can enter the facility. At the same time, visitors may be subject to further security screening or denied entry to the school.
What Needs to Be Addressed
After learning about the importance of exterior door locks and access control systems, you must address the following three key areas for educational safety and compliance.
The Security of the Exterior of the Building(s)
Schools’ exterior doors are a key trouble spot. Excess access points must be eliminated. Too many entry points present a risk for unauthorized guests due to propped doors, doors left open, misplaced keys, or unlawful key duplication.
The best approach is to decide which access points will be required and close all those that have outdoor access. Additionally, help convert the school to a simple patented key system to prohibit key duplicating immediately. Notably, all lock manufacturers provide this option. With this little adjustment, they can safeguard their facility and regain crucial control from earlier years.
Dual validation access control requires an access card and a numerical code to enter the door. This feature ensures unauthorized individuals cannot enter even if a card is lost or stolen. On exterior doors, you can also set door prop alarms to sound each time the door opens, preventing the door from being pushed open. These straightforward, battery-powered alarms are an affordable value-added solution because they get keyed into the end users’ master key system.
Aiphone is one of the most popular school tools to monitor visitors. The main door, where the front office is located, has an Exchange-Based Video Intercom put on it. When a visitor presses a button, the front desk receives a live video feed of the front door and accurate voice recognition so they can see and hear who is asking to enter.
Furthermore, no modifications to the front door’s locking mechanism are required for this to function. Instead, an electric strike that may be operated by a member of the front desk staff or a designated user with an access card or code can be affixed to the door frame.
The Security of the Classrooms
Most classrooms still use the classic classroom function lock, which requires the instructor to use a key to either lock or unlock the door. To do this, the teacher must expose themselves in an open hallway. Some schools now require instructors to constantly have their keys on them and keep the door locked and closed at all times unless currently in use.
Some schools wish to add more locks or locking mechanisms to existing classroom doors. However, due to egress limitations, these locks and mechanisms generally do not comply with ADA and life safety rules.
Students, teachers, and staff can be better protected from potential harm during a threat by making a few easy improvements to door hardware and school district policies and procedures. Budget restrictions are a problem in many K–12 institutions; however, exterior door locks are an inexpensive solution that immediately improves security posture.