Since the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School, I have thought a lot about lock functions for classroom doors; the news reports and the testimony from Parkland teacher Stacey Lippel added some new perspective.  I highly recommend reading the full testimony, but here is a brief excerpt explaining what happened after the students and teacher exited the classroom upon hearing the fire alarm, and then realized that they needed to go back and shelter in the room:

“I quickly turned around, unlocked my door and then very quickly ensured that the lock was back in a locked position so that when I shut the door, it would already be locked from the outside. (I don’t know how else to describe this action, but it’s very important because it truly saved my life and my students’ lives.)”
From this and all of the other reports I’ve read, I believe that this school had traditional classroom function locks – with a key cylinder on the outside only – and that the school had set a policy for the doors to be kept locked at all times.  Closed and locked doors saved lives in Parkland.  Spokane Public Schools recently announced that they will be testing a similar policy for the rest of the school year.  Even though the school district has updated classroom doors to classroom security locks – which can be locked from the inside with a key – the outside levers will be kept locked.  From the Spokesman-Review:
“Morrison said the district also installed the locks that were designed to prevent someone from entering the classrooms. However, to comply with fire codes, the doors allow teachers and students to open them from inside at anytime in order to leave.

‘We don’t want to lock people in. The idea is to keep people who shouldn’t be in the classroom from coming in,’ Morrison said. ‘Obviously for all of us in today’s world, it’s a shift. But what extra steps can we all take to add that extra layer of security?’

Lewis and Clark High School Principal Marybeth Smith announced to students last week that the locked doors will be part of their routine starting after spring break.”

Lancaster County, South Carolina has adopted a similar protocol, and so has the Kent Washington School District.  At Chemeketa Community College, traditional classroom locks were changed to storeroom function locks, so the outside lever is always locked.

With any type of locks used on classroom doors, there’s the question of what happens to students and teachers left on the corridor side when the doors are locked.  This article from The Guardian details the impossible choice faced by Parkland teachers during the shooting.  This problem exists regardless of the type of lock used.

I would like to know your preferred lock function for classroom doors, and why.  Is there any way to address the problem of students and teachers being locked out of the classroom?  Please leave a comment in the reply box.

  • A) outside lever locked at all times
  • B) outside lever locked by push button or thumbturn on inside
  • C) outside lever locked by a key in the inside cylinder
  • D) electrified lockdown – local (lock one or more doors from the classroom)
  • E) electrified lockdown – remote (lock all doors from the office)
  • F) other

School administrators, facility managers, locksmiths, and others are looking for this information and would benefit greatly from your insight.

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