Having effective school door locks is essential to a school’s safety plan. Not only do they help safeguard students, staff and visitors during emergencies but they also support efforts in deterring theft, anti-social behavior and other illegal activities. This guide will help provide valuable information on the importance of school door lock systems and take you through the various options available to pair with commercial security doors and help you secure your school.
The National Center for Education Statistics stated that in 2019-20, 97% of schools had some form of a door lock for school safety. Key-operated door locks, as you probably know, require a physical key to obtain access and are common across many settings, including schools, even if they may seem antiquated when compared to keyless school safety door locks. They still offer good levels of security but it can be argued that key-operated locks can prove to be more complex to manage than keyless school security door locks.
With access control hardware and software making huge strides over the past decade or two, there are plenty of viable keyless school safety door locks on the market. Keyless locks remove the need for keys and instead rely on a variety of electronic devices that manage access. These electronic school security door locks have proven to be a worthwhile investment for schools and colleges as they’ve brought benefits such as improved security, an easier experience for users and, over time, a good return on investment. You can take a closer look at each type of key and keyless lock later in this guide as first, this guide will explore school door locks for both interior and exterior use.
Exterior school access points, those found along the perimeter of a school, see a lot of traffic with a large number of students, staff and visitors entering and exiting the school. As a result, the school safety door locks at exterior access points need to be easy to use and manage, as well as compliant with building and fire codes. Most keyless door locks are compliant and are easy to manage in an emergency. Don’t forget about the use of panic bars, which provide a method of quick evacuation.
When it comes to interior school door locks, you should keep in mind that classroom security locks will be required, as well as locks for staff rooms, offices and other restricted spaces. Door locks for all of these spaces need to be easy to use and manage in emergencies and lockdown situations. For example, teachers should be able to easily control the classroom security lock from the inside. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, in 2019-20, 1 in 4 public schools in the United States lacked classroom doors that can be locked from the inside. This poses a risk to the teacher or staff member who would need to exit the classroom in order to lock the door during an emergency. In addition to having classroom security locks that can be controlled from the inside of the room, first responders need to be unimpeded when accessing such spaces without the right credentials and these door locks also need to adhere to building and fire codes.
Used most commonly for interior doors within schools that require little security. A cylindrical lever lock features a door handle on both sides of the door and its mechanism features a small cylinder, hence the name for these school safety door locks.
Commonly used to deter forced entry, mortise locks feature a strike plate with the deadbolt found inside the lock’s mechanism. Such a door lock for school safety is usually found on exterior-facing school doors, as they provide added strength compared to cylindrical locks, but can equally be suited to interior use as well, depending on the thickness of the doors.
Deadbolt locks are commonly used alongside other types of school door locks for additional security. Deadbolt locks are found on interior doors within schools, making them a potential option for classroom security locks.
Panic bars are an essential requirement for schools and colleges so that students, staff and visitors can evacuate the building safely in an emergency. These bars have a dogging feature, which can be either mechanical or electrical, that enables the latches to be held retracted to create that push and pull method. For use in schools, it is important to remember that users of all ages and sizes may be required to use a panic bar, from a small student to a disabled staff member. Therefore, panic bars must be accessible for all users, and require a sufficient amount of force to operate but not too much that some struggle to release the latch.
Keyless lock solutions—which can be either wired or wireless lock sets—operate the school door locks and classroom security locks. To operate these locks, a device, whether it be a keypad, RFID reader or another device altogether, is usually installed alongside the door to grant or deny access.
Keypads require users to input a PIN code to gain access. Within schools, these types of school door lock systems are more likely to be used on doors that guard restricted spaces, such as staff rooms, storage spaces or server rooms. Capable of providing either one PIN code for all users or unique PIN codes for each user, keypads are sometimes used alongside a key-operated lock for added security.
Commonly seen across many settings, RFID key cards and key fobs are also used by schools and colleges to allow students, staff and visitors to get access to certain spaces within their buildings. Easy to use, these RFID-enabled objects can enable access by simply swiping them in close proximity to a reader near the door.
Similar to the key card and fob method, mobile access control allows the user, whether it is a student, staff or visitor, to gain access to restricted spaces with the use of their mobile devices. These mobile devices would contain the credential information needed to access buildings, rooms and spaces so the user would simply need to swipe or have the mobile device in close proximity to the reader to unlock a door.
An advanced access control solution that provides high-level security, biometric devices require the user to provide their fingerprint or a retina scan to gain access to a secured space.
In worst-case scenarios, security personnel may have no other option but to initiate a school and classroom door lockdown across a school building or college campus, so it is vital that educational facilities have a comprehensive lockdown plan in place. In fact, in 2019-20, 96% of all public K-12 schools had a written plan describing procedures to be performed in an emergency situation, and 98% had conducted a lockdown drill with their students that year, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.
A key element of a thorough and reliable lockdown plan is the type of school lockdown door locks used. To choose the ideal safety locks for inside doors and exterior access points, you need to choose the right lockdown system option for your school or college. There are two types of lockdowns for schools and classroom doors:
Global Lockdown – this system option locks all doors from one location. This procedure is usually carried out through the school’s access control system.
Local Lockdown – this system option locks individual classroom doors from the inside. This gives the teacher or staff member in the classroom the decision as to whether to evacuate or lock their classroom door.
Choosing the right option for your school or college depends on the application. Security professionals and emergency responders will usually suggest a mix of the two lockdown options. Put simply, the Global Lockdown system option can be adopted along the perimeter of a school building and the Local Lockdown can be adopted for interior use, for example, a classroom door lockdown.
School door barricade systems and devices or school door barricade locks are designed to wedge or barricade doors and provide classroom door protection from the inside during an emergency or lockdown scenario to stop intruders from entering a space such as a classroom. However, these secondary classroom door lockdown devices can have the reverse intended effect and prove dangerous in emergency situations. In a recent article, the Security Industry Association (SIA) outlined its concerns about these school lockdown door barricade devices. The SIA identified three key areas of concern:
Now that you’re aware of the various school door locks and devices, take into account the following questions in order to determine what type of school safety door locks and classroom security locks suit your school or college campus.
1. Who will be using the lock?
If the door lock for school safety needs to be operated by students, school staff and visitors, keep in mind that this will impact your decision on the choice of locks and devices, as you’ll need to take into account the number of users, when they will need access and how your team will be able to handle school door lock operation.
2. How often will the lock be used?
Locks that are used frequently will experience more wear so it’s important to ensure that robust school security door locks are installed on doors that see a lot of use.
3. Can the school exterior door locks and classroom emergency door locks be operated quickly in an emergency?
In a lockdown situation or another emergency scenario, it is vital that your emergency door locks for school can be operated quickly to secure students and staff.
4. Is it necessary to have doors lock automatically?
If yes, it is crucial that you explore electronic locks that contain a spring-loaded mortise latch.
5. Would you like a hold-open feature?
The hold-open feature allows security teams to open up access to classrooms, gym halls, libraries and other school areas during school hours or during a school-wide event, such as an open day. Outside of these specific hours, the school security door lock can restrict access.
6. Does your lock system require a tamper-proof feature?
This feature provides extra protection against those who are trying to intrude upon a restricted area. It typically kicks in after multiple failed attempts to gain access, for example, via a keypad, and automatically shuts down the device to prevent further attempts.
7. Will your school door lock system need to integrate with your existing access control system?
If so, it is essential that you discuss which school door lock systems have the capability to integrate with your current access control system. For example, Motorola Solutions Access Control Manager integrates with leading lock providers, including ASSA ABLOY, Allegion and SALTO.
8. What is your budget for procuring new emergency classroom door locks for school safety?
This will have the biggest impact on the choice of door lock for school safety you opt for. Be sure to work out the total cost of procuring door locks for your school or college building and remember to keep in mind potential costs associated with integrating the lock system with other school security systems, as well as maintenance and upkeep over time.