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    July 2018

    Securing Classroom Doors to Stop Active Shooters

    Many K-12 institutions are examining the security of classrooms and their doors in the wake of school shootings. A locked or otherwise secured door prevents a school shooter from entering a room, potentially saving lives. To date, no active school shooter has breached a locked classroom door. Follow the considerations and practices below to help your school best secure its classroom doors in a potential active shooter situation.


    Offer an Interior Locking Option 

    Doors that lock from the inside of a room are preferred. According to a 2015 report by the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission, interior locks are most effective in securing classrooms. Exterior locking doors may put teachers or others in the path of an active shooter by requiring them to go into the hallway to lock the door. In the case of the Parkland shooting, teachers were injured or killed while trying to lock their classroom doors from the outside.

    Even if doors have interior locks, they should be accessible from the outside to administrators and emergency personnel. Be sure to provide these individuals with keys or an exterior access method.


    Consult Experts Regarding Barricade Devices

    Barricades can effectively secure classroom doors, however, most do not comply with state and local fire codes. From rubber doorstops to an industrial grade security device designed specifically for a school door, the complexity and cost of barricades are wide-ranging. Consult with an attorney and security expert before purchasing these devices for classroom doors.


    Secure Classroom Doors With Windows

    For doors with windows, consider providing a temporary covering to help obstruct a shooter’s view into a classroom. Temporary coverings are preferred because permanent classroom privacy may increase the risk of sexual molestation, which occurs more frequently than shootings.

    Additionally, review the placement of windows on or near doors because an active shooter might fire through the glass to gain entry. Consider making glass doors and windows shatter and bullet resistant. If possible, schools may also want to install classroom doors that are made of bulletproof materials.


    Comply With Codes and Requirements

    When deciding how to secure your classroom, identify and comply with applicable building and fire codes, life safety codes, laws, regulations, and other requirements. Use the National Association of State Fire Marshals’ (NASFM) checklist of best practices for classroom door security. It’s based on building codes, life safety codes, fire codes, and federal laws. 


    Engage Internal and Outside Security Experts

    Engage any staff members with security and liability expertise in the decision about how to secure classroom doors. Additionally, consider contacting an outside security expert to review your school’s approach to its doors and overall physical security. A fresh perspective can help identify security gaps.


    Document Your Process

    Once your institution has decided how it will secure classroom doors, consult with counsel about the best way to document the school’s thought process. Such documentation can be important in showing that the institution acted reasonably if a related claim arises.


    Resources

    Final Report of the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission

    The Broward County League of Cities’ School and Community Public Safety Task Force

    Classroom Door Security and Locking Hardware, The National Association of State Fire Marshals

    Classroom Barricade Devices: A Dangerous Violation of Federal Laws

    Best Practices for Securing Classroom Doors From the Inside

    State Rejects School District’s Appeal to Use Barricades

    UW-Whitewater Installs Life-Saving Device in Classrooms

    By Kaitlyn Waslawski, risk management intern


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