Mechanical locks with special features also can provide many effective solutions. One important example is the need to secure classrooms, especially during a lockdown.
Schools in Vacaville, Calif., replaced their locks with Schlage locks that incorporate a Classroom Security function. This allows an individual to immediately lock a door from inside with a key, eliminating exposure outside the classroom in a hostile intruder situation. The ability to key-lock from inside the classroom allows the teacher to control access and egress in an emergency and prevents the compromise that could occur with an inside pushbutton or thumbturn latch. The same function is available on electronic locks as well.
Vacaville also upgraded its key system to a Schlage Everest patent-protected key system. Keys are only available to authorized individuals through professional locksmith channels, which helps to prevent unauthorized key duplication.
George Durnay, Vacaville’s director of buildings, grounds and equipment maintenance, notes, “With key blanks that can’t be duplicated at the local Wal-Mart or Home Depot, we are now able to develop a checkout system and an education system so people understand the importance of accounting for their keys.”
Secure Entrance Rooms
Many schools are adding secure entrance rooms between the main entrance and the school’s office to provide a single, controlled-access point. In Greenwood,Ind., a vestibule at each school routes all visitors to the office where they can be identified and screened before they are admitted. A bank teller-type window provides security while allowing a credential exchange. To confirm identities and ensure they check out when leaving, visitors are required to leave a driver’s license, credit card or other identification in exchange for a visitor’s pass.
This type of control also provides a quick way to accomplish a lockdown if necessary. In Salt Lake City’s Granite School District, assistant foreman, safety systems/police electronics, Mark Peterson notes, “We typically leave only the main door open for public access. Visitors must report to the office, which is located near the front door. If we need to go into a lockdown, the principal or custodian only has to lock that one door.”
Colorado’s Boulder Valley School District is redesigning and renovating its main entrances to incorporate a secure entrance room adjacent to the school’s office to function as an access control point. When visitors enter, they encounter a locked door leading into the school but an open one leading to the office, where they must stop and register. For authorized credential holders, the door to the school will open when they present the credential. At schools where the secure entrance room has not yet been reconstructed, a visitor calls the office from a telephone intercom in the vestibule, and the office staff verifies his or her identity using a video surveillance system before remotely unlocking the door. In either case, the doors are locked automatically with the school’s electronic access control system once school is in session.
One added benefit to the district is the ability to control doors remotely. Steve Hoban, director of security for the Boulder Valley School District, explains, “If an authorized person calls in and needs access, we can remotely unlock the door. Also, if there is a problem outside the school that creates a lockout situation, the school can get the students inside and lock all the doors remotely.”
Biometrics are playing an ever-increasing security role. Although more common on college campuses, some K-12 school systems also are using biometric readers to verify identity and even manage attendance functions. Biometric hand readers are an excellent method of visitor management at secure access points such as the entrances mentioned above.