In addition to providing support and training on door-related code requirements, my job also includes participating in code development – helping to propose changes to the codes that affect our business, and reviewing proposals from others. There is currently research underway that may propose to add school security requirements to a national code. But what should those requirements include with regard to physical security? Requirements that are too prescriptive may not be feasible for some school districts. Those that are not prescriptive enough (like the proposal from the Massachusetts Task Force Report on School Safety and Security) may inadvertently result in code violations or locking methods that allow unauthorized locking.
A quick search of recent news provides a look at what various school districts are doing to improve school security:
- ID badges for students teachers, and administrators
- Buzzers, panic buttons, cameras, uniforms for security personnel and six-foot fencing around portable classrooms
- Security officers in each school
- Visitor management software
- Secure entry vestibules
- District-wide notification of unwanted visitors
- Phone app for instant communication between school staff and first responders
- “Secret” security plans
- Metal detectors
- “Safe Passage” routes to and from school
- Video surveillance of exterior areas and district-wide
- Fingerprint scanners
- Locks on classroom doors
- Armed teachers (Let’s not get caught up in gun debate here, ok?)
And in the midst of all of these efforts, we continue to see creative methods employed by teachers and administrators to facilitate a lock-down. I feel for the teachers who are just trying to do what they can to keep their students safe. I have many friends who are teachers, and I have 3 kids in school. But by now, most of you know my criteria for an effective classroom security device:
- It must not violate code requirements for free egress.
- It must not inhibit latching if the door is a fire door.
- It must not allow unauthorized locking which could encourage mischief and/or criminal behavior.
- It must be readily available and easy to install if needed.