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Are Classroom Intruder Locks a Good Idea?

Posted on May 21, 2019 at 3:50 PM

Classroom intruder locks, locks that can be locked in the outside by using a key in the inside, are one solution to the active shooter problem taking place in school campuses. In the even the classrooms need to be locked down because of an emergency, the teacher can take her key, insert it into the inside lock cylinder, turn it, and lock down the outside lock handle. She can do this without having to leave the room and lock the door from the outside.

Okay. The classroom intruder lock is a good idea, although an expensive one. But, if it were up to me - unfortunately it's up to the codes people - I wouldn't have an intruder lock on my classroom door as the be-all-end-all answer to the active shooter problem. Here's why:

  1. In the event of an emergency, somebody with a key must be inside the room in order to lock it.
  2. In order to lock an intruder lock, the teacher is going to have to find her key and be calm enough to get the key into the lock cylinder. This is sometimes hard to do anyway.
  3. If the teacher IS NOT FULLY TRAINED to use the lock, she could end up locking it AND UNLOCKING it both at the same time!
One school system I know about has attached a chain to the door from which hangs a key to operate the inside lock in the event of an emergency. Sorry, but that's a mistake. Just because a key is available doesn't mean someone can be sure the lock is on lock down in the event of an emergency. 

If it were up to me, here's what I would do. Given that we cannot and should not have two locks on one door, which is a life safety hazard, I would install a grade one ENTRY LEVER which uses a button on the inside to lock the outside. In the event there is an active shooter, any student can push the button and know THE LOCK IS LOCKED! The problem with my solution here? Kids can lock the door whenever they want to. I don't think this is real problem. 

If classroom intruders are used, here is something you can do. I have down this with the locks in one county. Every lock takes a unique outside key which only the teacher using the classroom has. The principal has a master key which operates all the locks. The inside cylinder of the intruder lock is keyed to ONE KEY THAT WORKS IN THE ENTIRE COUNTY SYSTEM. This key is given out to subs and teachers. In an emergency, every person on the school staff has a key that will work in any classroom. That means if a teacher is in a different classroom, she can lock down that classroom. As always, school staff must be properly-trained to use these locks.

Still, in the end, I think ENTRY FUNCTION locks are the answer. I think intruders are a mistake. Coupled with a resource officer, metal detectors, room alarms, and locked outer doors, an entry lock will be foolproof safety feature to protect kids.

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