Ideally, a classroom door can be locked from within the classroom without opening the door and potentially exposing the teacher to an intruder in the hallway. Many schools have existing classroom function locksets, which have to be locked by inserting a key in the outside cylinder. When a district doesn’t have the funding to replace the locks with a function that can be locked from within the classroom without opening the door, one option is to keep the outside lever locked at all times.
The disadvantage of a door that is always locked is the inconvenience of opening the door to allow students to enter during class time. Several products have been developed that will prevent the door from latching, so students can enter even when the door is locked. If there is an emergency that requires lockdown, the device can be removed to allow the door to latch, and automatically lock.
A school district in Iowa found a low-tech solution that doesn’t create any code issues as long as the doors are not fire-rated (from the video they don’t seem to be); fire doors need to have positive latching so it would not be code-compliant to block the latch on a fire door assembly. Of course I would rather see a classroom security lock or an electrified lockset, but for some schools it’s not feasible to replace their existing locks immediately. My main concern with setting a precedent for blocking the latch would be that the people utilizing this method may not be familiar with the fire door requirements and could inadvertently implement it on a fire door assembly.
What do you think?
Some of you may be thinking that this is a lame idea (I know you’re out there!), but I read an article yesterday about American schools’ obsession with security, and I have to say that I agree with most of the points in the article. While I feel strongly that it’s important to maintain a certain level of security and vigilance in schools, I also think we need to maintain a balance between safety, security, convenience, cost, and the educational environment. I’ve seen many examples of how fear can cause schools to lose sight of safety while focusing solely on security, and how some companies are capitalizing on these fears by inflating the dangers and downplaying the need for egress, accessibility, and fire protection. I’d love to hear your thoughts on this article: Ahmed Mohamed is a victim of American schools’ harmful obsession with security.
Speaking of safety & security…