Unlocking Safety: The Role of Physical Security Solutions in Classroom Peace of Mind

June 8, 2024
Students learn better when they feel safe at school

When we feel safe, we find it easier to focus on the present. According to a survey of over 35,000 school-age children, 59% feel safe at school, while another survey states 66% of teachers feel safe in their workplace.

Students—and faculty—who feel safe at school are better equipped to learn, work and build relationships with those around them.

Feeling safe isn’t just about physical safety. Of course, we want to ensure that our children aren’t physically in harm’s way at school. However, the importance of psychological safety can be overlooked. When children don’t feel safe, they have a harder time focusing, and may not want to go to school at all.

How can we help students and teachers feel safer in the classroom? There are several solutions to consider, and door security solutions can often be an overlooked element when it comes to emotional well-being and psychological safety.


Creating a Safer Classroom, Together

Provide physical security based on best practices.

When students feel safe, they feel better equipped to learn. Physical security solutions are important tools in making the classroom safer. Among other reputable organizations, the Partner Alliance for Safer Schools (PASS) has outlined best practices and guidelines to help effectively secure a school.

One such guideline is that classroom doors lock from inside the room and remain locked even throughout the school day but be accessible from the outside with a valid key, card or credential so authorized individuals can enter the classroom.

Historically, and still in many schools today, classroom doors could only be locked from outside the room, requiring teachers or other keyholders to step into the hallway. By choosing solutions that allow the door to lock from the inside, students and teachers may feel safer knowing that they do not need to potentially step into harms’ way to secure the classroom.

Visual indicators on classroom doors, like the Schlage mortise, cylindrical and deadbolt visual indication trims, can provide valuable peace of mind in quickly knowing whether the door is locked. In an emergency, this can save precious time and help prevent confusion or panic when trying to secure the classroom. The new indicators have larger windows and better visibility from afar. If students and teachers can glance at the door and see that it is locked, they may feel safer and more able to focus on learning.

Physical security solutions that abide by codes and best practices can also help create a sense of security for students and teachers. Understanding why and how a door should be locked, especially in an emergency, can empower students to help keep their classroom safe.

Understanding and applying the proper solutions and their functions is imperative for the safety of a classroom. According to the Final Report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, a shooter has never breached a locked door. In this case, grade 1 commercial locks with a classroom security function or office/entrance function are recommended, as they lock from the inside with a key or a push button/thumb turn, and do not require the user to step out into the hallway to lock the door.

A lock with a storage room function can also be used. However, it’s crucial to understand that sometimes staff will circumvent this function by using magnets to keep the door unlatched for convenience. In case of emergency lockdown, the door must be opened to remove the magnet, increasing the potential for danger or a possible intruder to breach the classroom. If this function is preferred, it is imperative to communicate this to school faculty.

 Assembly areas sometimes serve as classrooms too. They need to be able to lock down just like regular classrooms. However, due to the larger size, many of them have code requirements that include panic hardware (also known as exit devices). Some models of panic hardware also come with visual indicators or can be retrofitted to include them. It’s important that indicators in these areas can be easily seen from farther away than in a smaller classroom setting.

Each of these recommendations and practices integrate naturally with the environment of the classroom. They don’t intrude or interfere with day-to-day activities, or make students and teachers think about being vulnerable when they see them.


School security should represent and foster a community of inclusivity, diversity and safety for all.

Over the past several years, some schools have been hardened to the point where they look and feel like prisons and institutions, often due to design or the security solutions chosen.

It’s important to recognize that the physical environment of a school plays a significant role in shaping the experiences and attitudes of those within it. When schools are designed to mimic prisons, it can create a negative atmosphere that affects the overall mood, motivation and sense of belonging for students and teachers alike. This can lead to a range of issues such as decreased engagement, increased stress levels and a lack of enthusiasm for learning.

The actions schools take to enhance safety often do not align with the measures that make students feel safer. For instance, implementing security measures such as metal detectors, gates, and high fences may not necessarily contribute to a sense of safety among students.

When students are required to walk through metal detectors or see devices used to barricade classroom doors, it can have a counterproductive effect on their perception of safety. Instead of feeling protected, these measures can serve as constant reminders of potential threats and vulnerabilities. The presence of such security measures can create a sense of unease, reminding students that their safety might be at risk.

By shifting the focus from visible security measures to implementing evidence-based, proven solutions, while fostering a supportive and nurturing environment, schools can create spaces where students feel secure, valued and empowered to thrive academically and emotionally.


Key Takeaways

While physical safety measures are important at schools, psychological safety should not be overlooked. Students need to feel a sense of belonging, the ability to express themselves and the knowledge that their ideas are valued.

Creating a safe and secure classroom environment supports that emotional well-being. When recommending classroom locks, features that adhere to best practices like visual indicators can help provide a balance of security and valuable peace of mind.

Ultimately, by prioritizing and balancing both physical and psychological safety, we can create classrooms that empower students, nurture their well-being and provide an optimal environment for growth and success.

Melany Whalin is Demand Generation Manager, Education & Healthcare markets at Allegion US