The Classroom Door: Last Line of Defense

June 1, 2017
School systems are investing in lockdown-capable locks and door hardware to help prevent the unauthorized entry into specific rooms without compromising life safety

Enhancing locks on classrooms and interior doors of schools is the least expensive and easiest step to increase the safety of students and staff in schools.

While security experts will assert that security is best when it begins at the furthest perimeter of the premises, for many schools, campuses and school districts, the locations and physical size of the facilities as well as the shortage of trained security personnel makes such a security management scheme time consuming and costly to implement. Often such projects are reprioritized reactively rather than proactively.

So a popular trend has been to protect the doors to areas where the students are most vulnerable, inside their classrooms where fleeing or hiding may be difficult in a confrontation situation. Such measures are implemented with or without the aforementioned integrated access control in place since locking the classroom door is the last line of defense if there is an active shooter.

Instead of setting up the perimeter protection and then working our way in to specific interior areas, as would be the strategy for the typical access control system, schools opt for immediate action with upgrades to door locks.

The security industry has responded with a variety of locks and other solutions with the purpose of preventing the unauthorized entry into specific rooms by unauthorized individuals without compromising the life safety characteristics of the doors and openings.

So although there are enhanced control and notification systems available and being introduced to enhance the school’s ability to negotiate an “active shooter” scenario, this article will present door hardware whose purpose is to accelerate locking down individual classrooms.

BestAccess’s website not only explains their innovative school lockdown products, but also reports some important statistics regarding school security.

  • There has never been an event where the active shooter breached a locked classroom door.* (*Finding from final report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission)
  • More than 60 percent of these incidents are over before police and first responders arrive at the scene.
  • The average active shooter incident is over in five minutes or less—with half of those ending in less than two minutes.
  • The FBI reported 160 active shooter incidents between 2000 and 2013—an average of 11.4 incidents during the 13-year span.
  • In 2015 alone, reported 330 active shooter incidents across the United States.
  • 86% of shootings occur inside a building in spaces such as classrooms, large assembly spaces, offices and meeting rooms.

The security industry offers a large selection of solutions to securing schools. Some are based on mechanical locks which are the bedrock of physical security, and many enhance this with hybrid integrations.


ASSA ABLOY’s IN220 Power-over-Ethernet (PoE) combines superior aesthetics with the energy efficiency and streamlined architecture of PoE access control solutions. Available from ASSA ABLOY Group brands Corbin Russwin and SARGENT, the IN220 is a cost-effective, sustainable solution that leverages existing network infrastructure for enhanced security and easier installations.

The IN220 uses standard IEEE 802.3af PoE-enabled network infrastructure for both power and data, streamlining the installation process, eliminating proprietary equipment, and enabling real-time communication.  The lock also reduces standby power consumption up to 76 percent compared to traditional access control solutions and reduces materials by combining several separate components into a single lock. 

“Not only do PoE locks reduce hardware and labor costs by integrating a number of access control system components directly into the lock, but they also allow facilities to expand their access control network easily and affordably,” said Peter Boriskin, Vice President of Product Management, ASSA ABLOY Access and Egress Hardware Group. “Our new IN220 is ideal for facilities looking for the most efficient access control solution.”

Featuring HID® multiCLASS SE® technology, the IN220 supports a wide range of credential types and HID Mobile Access® powered by Seos® for use with mobile devices with Bluetooth® Smart and/or NFC technology. A new privacy button enables local lockdown and shelter in place as well as privacy functionality for applications such as restrooms. Built with integrated ANSI/BHMA Grade 1 hardware, all IN220 locks suite with the IN Series of locks and are available in cylindrical lock and mortise lock configurations as well as a wide range of finishes and decorative levers.

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Sargent 80 Series

Ideal for use in educational facilities on wood or metal doors, the Sargent 80 Series rim exit device offers an easy way to lock the outside trim from the inside without opening the door and putting people in harm's way, providing the best combination of durability, simplicity, strength, aesthetics and innovation.

The Lock/Unlock Indicator option (49-) provides a visual means of determining if a door has been secured by the cylinder on the inside of the room. Available on new or existing devices with a double cylinder function, the visual display eases concerns about knowing if doors are locked because the indicator reminds the occupants.

The indicator is located on the exit device chassis displaying a red icon when the device is locked and a white icon when the device is unsecure. The indicator is housed in the chassis cover with no protruding parts and a clear window to protect it from wear and abuse so the indicator cannot be forced or bent or interfere with the function of the device. 

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Best Shelter

BEST SHELTER, a unique combination of code-compliant mechanical hardware and proven technologies, is a responsive lockdown solution ideal for all types of buildings/environments and budgets.

With incidents rising at an alarming rate, schools have become one of the highest at-risk environments for live shooters and violence. Because every school building is different, SHELTER was designed to adapt to an individual school's layout, traffic flow and security protocol.

Three starter packages provide a convenient way to begin adding SHELTER to your facility. The highest level is the SHELTER Total Lockdown Kit, which includes the following components:

• Starter kit + BEST 9KX locks for interior room/office door lockdown

+ PRECISION electric exit devices for perimeter control

• Most secure SHELTER lockdown package

BEST SHELTER 9KX is a patent-pending BHMA Grade 1 lock which functions on a 900 MHz secure wireless network, allowing users to quickly lock doors via a fob. After receiving a lockdown command from the system, the 9KX transitions from standard classroom function to storeroom function. The 9KX is also equipped with visual and audio alarms to alert users that it is in lockdown mode. The BEST 9KX should be an integral part of a comprehensive lockdown strategy.

Features include:

• Vandal Resistant Lever: Lost motion design allows lever to move 55°-60° without engaging retractor assembly

• Quick Rekeying: Interchangeable core ensures quick, easy rekeying and masterkey compatibility

• Lever Sag-Resistant: Strong retractor springs resist sagging • Visual Lockdown Indicator: Interior light shows lockdown status

• Attack-Resistant Design: Slotted key release cam and locking lug assembly allow key access even if lock is damaged, and ensure lever is functional from the inside of the door

• Increased Security: Door locks quickly and securely using a fob without needing to access the front of the device

• Durability: 9K base chassis tested to over 4 million cycles, which exceeds the ANSI standard for Grade 1 cylindrical locks and exceeds Grade 1 abusive locked lever torque

• Easy Installation: Pre-assembled hub design greatly reduces the complexity and time required for installation

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Hager Classroom Intruder Lock

Hager’s 3495 Classroom Intruder is a cylindrical lock keyed on both sides of the door, which enables the key on the inside to lock or unlock the outside lever. The inside lever operates the latchbolt for immediate egress at all times. An indicator rose helps ensure the key is turned in the proper direction during times of emergency.

Hager’s 3857, Classroom Security Intruder, is a mortise lock keyed on both sides of the door with the deadbolt thrown or retracted by a key on either side. Throwing the deadbolt locks the outside lever preventing entry by intruders. Turning the inside lever simultaneously retracts the deadbolt and latch and unlocks the outside lever.

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Marks USA offers LocDownTM security mechanical locking solutions for every educational building and door. Marks’ LocDownTM Classroom Intruder Locksets easily and economically retrofit any standard lock, but in an emergency situation, allow the teacher to lock it down with a simple key, safely from inside the classroom without having to step foot into the hall . They are available in cylindrical or mortise lock styles with exclusive Marks Lifetime Mechanical Warranty.

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Alarm Lock Trilogy® T2 with LocDown

With the Trilogy DL2700LD Series, at the first sign of trouble, faculty and staff can remotely press their pocket-sized keyfob’s button to lock out unauthorized access, instantly locking-down a classroom or area, while remaining safely within the room. For multi-classroom users, up to 50 keyfobs can be supported on each lock and each keyfob can control up to four locks.

With Trilogy’s lockdown function, only users with a security level of Master or Manager are allowed access and can unlock the lock. All other basic user codes are denied access during emergency lock down. Instantly, a return to normal command, however, can be sent from a keyfob, re-enabling authorized teachers/staff and first responders outside the classroom, thus disabling emergency lockdown at any time.

A bright visual lockdown indicator bar on inner door confirms security activation to occupants; Outside small indicator light flashes and/or optionally beeps when in lockdown

This lock provides Grade 1 durability and includes a rugged all metal keypad. Up to 100 different user codes (3-6 digits). Master, manager and basic users, plus 3 one-time service codes are possible. It is 100% fingertip programmable, easy installation in less than an hour (Modified ANSI 115 Prep simply retrofits standard locksets.)

A clutch mechanism permits turning lever without retracting latch and reduces stress on lock bodies and spindle. Outside leveris  free turning in locked position. Entering access code,key bypass, or remote bypass will allow lever to retract latch. Inside lever always instant egress.

Solid brass 6 pin tumbler cylinder pinned 5, SC1 keyway, furnished in all locks. Additional tailpieces included: HW580 fits Schlage®, Corbin/ Russwin® CL, Sargent® 480 Series, ASSA®65-611. Model HW620 fits Ilco® and Lori® cylinders.

Interchangeable core models accepts 6 & 7 Pin Cylinders from: Best®, Arrow®, KSP®, Medeco Keymark® & Kaba Peaks®. Also available IC Core models for Yale®, Medeco®, Sargent, Corbin/Russwin CL and Schlage. Alarm Lock Tailpiece is supplied; IC Core is not included.

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dormakaba 9000 MLR

dormakaba exit devices are designed and manufactured to meet emergency egress codes and ADA requirements. The top of the line 9000 Series device offers the Motorized Latch Retraction (MLR) option.

MLR provides electronic control of an exit device via a quiet motor. It was created as an option for use in noise-sensitive environments that need the security of access control. In an MLR-equipped exit device, the concealed motor Inside the device’s rail draws in the touch bar. This action retracts the latch, allowing the door to open. This sequence is activated upon presentation of a valid credential previously entered into the access control peripheral such as a card reader or keypad.

MLR exits can also be integrated with access control Systems and peripherals (remotely or locally) to have latches held retracted (“dogged”) electronically during non-secure hours.

The 9000 Series with MLR option can operate as part of An electronic access control system. Individuals presenting a valid credential to a reader, or entering their PIN, will gain access to doors equipped with the 9000 MLR.

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Von Duprin  98/99

The Von Duprin 98/99 Series exit device is built with a universal center case that provides an easy upgrade path to new technology. This backward compatibility allows locksmiths and school security personnel to add features that will provide more functionality and security at an opening without replacing the entire exit device.

The Von Duprin classroom security indicator provides at-a- glance verification of the locked/unlocked status of the door from inside of the room or building. This reduces the time it takes to tour a facility and ensure each door is secure. It also enables efficient lockdown of high occupancy areas from within a building. These products are designed for high use and abuse institution environments, such as schools.

Additional features:

  • Lockdown solution that meets fire and life safety codes for free egress
  • Modular conversion kits allow you to quickly and easily upgrade your existing devices
  • 2SI security indicator with double cylinder:
  • Thumbturn or key cylinder with LOCK/UNLOCK labels provide a clear direction of rotation to secure opening
  • Available for 98/99 Series rim devices with L, TP, or K functions only.

Schlage® Visual Indicator Lock

The 180 degree visibility indicator for the Schlage® L-Series mortise lock provides at-a- glance verification of the status of the door, making it ideally suited for classroom security applications. Staff and students can quickly assess if the door is locked or unlocked from a safe distance inside of the classroom.

The L Series indicator features:

  • 2” x 1⁄2” display for easy viewing at a distance
  • 180° windows for visibility at any angle
  • High-mount placement for quick assessment during emergency lockdown
  • High contrast colors (white/red, black/white) for ease of reading
  • Choice of four text and/or symbol messages
  • Available for over 30 functions, for inside or outside of door
  • Available in Sectional trim or N Escutcheon trim

Westinghouse RTS with Lockdown

Westinghouse Security announces the addition of a “lockdown” function to its RTS Lock series. Designed to address the needs of users who require that their doors be temporarily unlocked, but if an incident presented itself, the door could be locked immediately. The RTS Lock with lockdown is ideal for locations, such as educational buildings, retail stores, and office spaces, where people can freely enter a space but remain locked in when a threat exists and evacuation is not an option.

To employ lockdown on the Westinghouse Security RTS Lock, users simply press the programming up and down arrow keys simultaneously and hold down for five seconds. Since the arrow keys are located on the interior portion of the RTS Lock, the user does not need to access the exterior side of the lock, which may be where a threat or intruder is located. Users can visibly see “Device Secured” on the screen when lockdown has been initiated. Once in lockdown, the door is locked and ingress requires an authorized user to enter credentials to unlock the door.

“Lockdown is a quick and easy way to lock a door while using our TUM (Temporary Unlock Mode) option,” notes Brian Moses, chief sales officer, Westinghouse Security. “Administrators can use TUM to program an unlock function on preset days and times; however, the door only unlocks when an authorized first user presents a credential, such as the opening manager for a restaurant.” When a RTS Lock is not in TUM, it automatically reverts to a locked or normal mode.

According to Moses, “Our lockdown function allows someone to lock a door without stepping into a hallway, street, or common area as well as lock a door without relying on the accessibility of an external FOB or remote command. Adding lockdown to RTS Locks is another way that Westinghouse Security has enabled enhanced security but without complicating the process.” 

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About the Author

Tim O'Leary

Tim O'Leary is a security consultant, trainer and technician who has also been writing articles on all areas of locksmithing & physical security for many years.