In 2015, the Colorado code for educational facilities was changed in order to address classroom security. The change added a requirement for classroom doors in Group E occupancies to have a means for teachers to manually lock the door from within the classroom. The type of lock used must not prevent the doors from being readily openable from the egress side without a key or special knowledge or effort.
The code change goes on to say that under certain conditions, classroom doors may be equipped with a device that prevents the door from latching. The purpose of this code language is to allow a thin magnet to be placed over the strike, or a similar means of preventing the door from latching, so the exterior lever can be kept locked at all times for security but the door may still be pulled open from the outside. If there is an incident that requires a lockdown, the door is opened slightly, the magnet removed, and the door automatically latches and locks when it is closed.
This code modification is written in a way that it’s difficult to interpret, but one thing is clear. It requires code-compliant hardware to be installed on egress doors in classrooms no later than January 1, 2018. In addition, any latching hardware that is repaired or replaced has to meet the new requirements, including a means of locking the door from within the classroom.
A few days ago, the media caught on to the potential cost of replacing most of the locks on classroom doors across Colorado. These articles explain the situation:
A change in state safety codes means the Thompson School District will have to replace the knobs on 1,140 doors at a cost of up to $600,000.
The Reporter Herald reports the state fire code was updated in 2015 to address a need for teachers to quickly lock their doors from inside their classrooms in the event of an emergency.
Schools have been able to use magnets over locking mechanisms, allowing doors to be easily opened throughout the day and still lock quickly by simply removing the magnet. But by Jan. 1, 2018, that quick fix will no longer be enough, and all doorknobs in all schools statewide must be changed. Doors are designed to create a barrier during a fire, and the magnets interfere with the seal that creates that barrier.
Thompson required to replace doorknobs, cost is about $500,000 – Reporter-Herald
Most of the interior doors within the schools in the district have simple doorknobs that lock from the outside with a key — a cost-effective option that was commonly used when local schools were built, even in newer schools within the past decade.
But now, with more worry about an active shooter incident inside schools, safety requirements dictate that teachers must be able to quickly lock their classroom doors from inside in the event of an emergency.
During the past two years, since the state fire safety code was updated in 2015, schools were able to jury-rig the doors, using magnets over the locking mechanism. That allowed doors to be easily opened throughout the day and still lock quickly by simply removing the magnet.
On a related topic, this news story is about a fight between students which took place in a classroom. The substitute teacher didn’t feel comfortable trying to break it up, so the teacher left the classroom to find help. Parents are up in arms because the fight went on for a couple of minutes. It could have gone on much longer if there was a classroom barricade device hanging next to the door, and someone deployed it while the teacher was outside the room. How would the teacher get back in at that point? At least there were other students in the classroom and maybe one of them would remove the barricade device, but what if the two students fighting were alone in the classroom – a sanctuary for crime and mayhem once the barricade device is in place?