A couple of weeks ago I posted about my teacher-friend Shilana, who shared with me (and y’all) a bit about her school’s lockdown procedures. I asked her about several scenarios…what she would do if she and the kids were on the playground, in the gym, or in the restroom when the lockdown alarm sounded. She had a plan for each situation.
When I asked about the bathroom procedure, Shilana said that plan was to pull up, zip up, and follow her directions. 🙂 Her preference was to exit the building and meet at their safe place rather than staying in a classroom near the bathroom (the bathrooms are not lockable). Remembering that bathrooms were used to shelter students and staff during the tragedy at Sandy Hook, I thought about the locks used on multi-stall bathrooms. These rooms often have no doors, or no locks, or classroom function deadbolts (the interior thumbturn will retract the bolt in case of an accidental lock-in, but will not throw the bolt so the teacher would be unable to lock the door from the inside). None of these will help in an intruder situation.
I think a good function for multi-stall toilets would be one where there was an exterior cylinder to project or retract the bolt, an interior cylinder that could be used by a teacher to project or retract the bolt, and an interior thumbturn that would retract the bolt (not project it). I called Kenny Abell, a project manager for Schlage, and he said this function will be added to the Schlage product line in the near future. It is currently available as an engineering special. The photo to the right is a prototype.
This function cannot be locked by an unauthorized person, and it meets the requirements for free egress and accessibility as long as this is the only lock or latch on the door and it is mounted between 34 inches and 48 inches above the floor. The thumbturn retracts the bolt with one operation, and it is large enough to be operated with no tight grasping, pinching, or twisting of the wrist. A deadbolt would not be acceptable as the only lock on a fire door because it does not have an active latchbolt, but fire-rated bathroom doors are not common.
What do you think? What function would you prefer for a multi-stall bathroom in a school? Should bathrooms be part of a school’s lockdown plan?