Anderson Lock techs have installed 1,000’s of classroom security locks in 100’s of K-12 schools in dozens of diverse districts as well as on college campuses throughout the Chicago region. No two projects were alike, but we learned some valuable lessons we’d like to share.
No state requires all schools to install interior locks, though some recommend it, and a wave of school security grants often follows shootings. But even when they have new funds available, schools have struggled to decide what to prioritize. Amid the pressure to “harden” schools, and in the absence of state or local requirements to upgrade locks, districts have bought everything from bulletproof whiteboards to artificial intelligence-powered gun detection devices, despite scant evidence that such products prevent shootings.
“School districts and administrators get overwhelmed with numbers of options and solutions,” said Cedric Calhoun, chief executive officer of DHI, an industry group for door security professionals. “A lot of times they can overlook the simplicity of a door lock.”
Calhoun was quoted in an NBC News article titled, “Uvalde school’s classrooms lacked a basic security feature — and it’s missing across America.” The classroom doors at Robb Elementary School, in Uvalde, Texas, could not be locked from the inside. That’s a vulnerability school safety experts have been warning about for decades.
“Being able to lock a classroom door from the inside is crucial to protecting students during a school shooting.”
The article continued, “Despite billions of dollars that have been poured into hardening schools nationally, 1 in 4 U.S. public schools lack classroom doors that can be locked from the inside, according to a survey conducted two years ago by the National Center on Education Statistics, a federal research office.”
Here are the top 10 lessons Anderson Lock learned from installing 1,000’s of classroom security locks:
#1 Begin today!
Introducing physical security upgrades takes time. Budgets, bids, school boards, factory-ordering and project scheduling each move forward slowly. One step at a time.
#2 Billions available for schools.
Not all of the $63 billion Congress made available to schools last year was allocated for physical security, but a high percentage was. School security grant consultants assist school leaders in developing a strategy according to cost-benefit factors, budget, and other considerations, then find applicable funding opportunities. As federal agencies release additional school safety-specific grants, school leaders should be ready to submit plans for proposed physical security design, egress measures, and security and emergency response procedures to keep their school community safe.
#3 Establish a baseline security level.
Identify your school’s risks. Learn from others. As noted above, Anderson Lock has many years of experience installing school security locks. Match the proposed level of security with the perceived level of risk. Include school staff in policy development.
#4 Schedule a site assessment.
School security assessment projects typically entail an audit of school facilities. Conducting a site assessment and developing building security plans can identify existing vulnerabilities and enhance overall school security. Anderson Lock has decades of experience with facility “walk-throughs” when designing Master Key Systems. They are essential for accurate door counts, as well as for including estimates for necessary repair work. This planning step provides door names / numbers and locations which are required for concise ordering, and later, for programming or keying locks. Installation is faster and more efficient with a floor plan based on information gathered in an early-stage walk-through.
#5 Rely on Anderson Lock recommendations.
Anderson Lock’s extensive experience installing classroom security locks gives us a unique ability to assess a school district’s security goals. Our buying programs with leading manufacturers assure that school districts get the best value for their budget. Our skilled lock techs rehang or replace doors that are out of alignment, adjust or replace faulty door closers, and repair auxiliary door hardware to assure the integrity of each opening. These “extra” door services distinguish our company from all others and lead to endorsements and testimonials from every prior customer.
#6 Focus first on exterior, then on classroom doors.
One security measure that enjoys broad consensus across the country is keeping all external school doors locked to require visitors to enter schools through a single entry point. Furthermore, that entry should be “hardened” and, ideally, is one that can be monitored by staff members or video surveillance. In larger facilities, like high schools, multiple entry/exit doors are required, so access control locks provide better security than mechanical keyed locks.
#7 Choose the best value for your investment.
We think you will agree that, although there are several school security lock systems available, wireless electronic locks are the best value for your investment. They are proven to be reliable, and they can be integrated with existing CCTV video surveillance systems. Our techs are factory-trained to install these lockdown-capable locks, and our access control experts train school personnel to enroll and delete system users. We also troubleshoot any issues you may encounter.
#8 Ask us to write your bid specs.
Our broad experience writing customized school bid specifications assures that your security goals will be met, and quality products will be installed. Bid specifications are submitted to you in a format that is ready to be published.
#9 Plan ahead for installation.
Bid specs can, and should, include plans for installation. Do you want your school security project completed in summer months when students are not in school? Do you want it completed sooner? A team of Anderson Lock techs can work late afternoon and evening hours, when students are not in buildings, to complete an installation within a short turnaround time. Also, it is important to have the electronic locks and wireless network software installed, and managed, by the same company.
#10 Create a safe learning environment.
Physical security measures mitigate threats and reduce the amount of harm inflicted if incidents occur. A quality learning environment is one that is safe. Every school should meet or exceed the baseline of classroom security for products and protocol.
3 types of Classroom Security Locks:
Manual lockdown: Keys manually lock down a room or space. Most economical of lockdown solutions.
Remote lockdown: Localized solution for schools that want to upgrade without cost of networked system. Lockdown activated by remote fob within proximity of door.
Centralized lockdown: Integrated with access control software. Doors throughout building or campus locked from central location.