ESE stands for Exceptional Student Education and refers to specially designed instruction and related services at school for children with disabilities.  One common difficulty regarding the doors in ESE classrooms as well as classrooms for very young children, is the possibility that a student will leave the classroom through an exterior door and end up in a dangerous situation.

The available code-compliant options to discourage the use of these doors are:

  • Add an exit alarm which will sound if someone attempts to use the door.
  • Adjust the spring power of the door closer to require more opening force without exceeding the opening force limitations of the adopted code.  This option may not be effective for older students.
  • Install a delayed egress lock that will delay a student from exiting for 15 seconds (or 30 seconds where approved by the AHJ) while sounding an audible alarm.  This is allowed by the 2018 and 2021 editions of the IBC for classrooms with an occupant load of less than 50 people.
  • Enclose the area outside of the exterior door with a fence that would limit the student’s travel.  Keep in mind that the enclosed area would have to be large enough to provide a safe dispersal area, or would require an egress gate or approval from the AHJ.

I was recently contacted by a code official for a school district, who asked if something like what is shown in the image would be acceptable as a means to slow students down when they attempt to use the exterior door.  The area within the queue would have to be large enough to allow wheelchair passage, and the size of the queue would be limited so that it does not affect the use of the room.

Do you think the queue is a viable option for slowing students’ access to the exterior door in an ESE or preschool classroom?

If yes, how would you construct the “walls” of the queue?

What concerns do you have regarding this idea?


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