Last weekend I was at a party and found myself across the table from an unsuspecting teacher-friend who had no idea that she was about to be grilled about the security procedures at her school. Shilana* teaches 4th grade at an urban elementary school in Ohio. I asked her what type of lockset she had on her classroom door, and from her description she has a classroom security lock and knows how to use it. (This lock function can be locked from the outside or inside using a key, and allows free egress.)
She keeps the door closed and locked at all times – when she and the students are in the classroom and when they are not. Interruptions are reduced because she takes her class to the restrooms as a group, and does not allow any adult to enter who is not wearing a visitor badge (except fellow staff members). She carries her key as well as her access card for the exterior doors with her, along with a whistle and a two-way radio that connects to the office. The kids know that in some intruder situations they will exit the school and go to their safe meeting place. The school has a drill every two weeks – either a fire drill, a tornado drill, or a lockdown drill. They are prepared.
Shilana told me about the row of cabinets in her classroom that she keeps empty in case she has to put students in them for protection, the table in her classroom that she keeps clear so she can tip it up and barricade the door – AND she also has one of the add-on security devices I’ve written about on this site. I asked why she needed the table and the security device, and she exclaimed with passion – “because of the glass in the door!!” Of course – someone could break the glass to gain access to the hardware, and the lock would be defeated – exactly what happened at the 2005 school shooting in Red Lake, Minnesota.
Most Board of Education standards mandate a vision lite or sidelite in each classroom door. The accessibility standards require the bottom of the vision lite to be no more than 43 inches above the floor. Where should the lite be placed within the width of the door (Shilana asked why it couldn’t be near the hinges), and what is the optimal size? Should the lite have protective glass or muntins to divide it into smaller lites? What should we, as an industry, be recommending?
WWYD? I would really appreciate your insight.
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.
Photo: Andrea Crawford, Reading Toward the Stars (Note: This is not Shilana’s classroom door.)