The Do’s and Don’ts of Effective School Door Locks

At the most basic level, a door lock really only needs to do one thing to be effective: prevent the door from being opened. Given current technologies, however, this is a pretty low bar for success, and today’s door locks are capable of a little (to a lot) more, delivering greater control and flexibility in your access management toolbox.

While keeping unwanted intruders out remains the number-one priority of school door locks, there are a few additional things that should be taken into consideration when upgrading to a new system.

DO: Have some method of remote control over your doors.

In an emergency, every second matters, and the longer it takes to lock doors, the more dangerous the situation becomes. For this reason, having some kind of remote control over your locks offers a huge security boost. Whether it’s the ability to lock a door from a smartphone or the ability to lock all doors with the press of a button, having remote control over your locks will save time, and potentially save lives.

DO: make it as easy as possible for teachers and other personnel to lock their classroom doors during a lockdown.

If you already have remote control over your locks as discussed above, this is a non-issue.

DO: Have written access control policies and ensure that all personnel are educated and adhere to them.

Policies should include ordering, issuing, and controlling keys and access credentials. It should also provide for accurate and up-to-date record keeping, such as documenting all credential issuances and termination of access privileges for former staff or contractors.

DO: Have a system that can alert to door propping or doors forced open.

Some type of notification or alert should go off whenever a door is propped or forced open. Ideally this system will be paired with video surveillance for real-time view of what is happening in the vicinity of the door incident.

DO: Audit your access privileges.

Make sure that the appropriate people have access to the correct areas of the facility, at the right time. Best practice for access control is to take a “Zero Trust” approach, which means that no one should have more access than they need. Take the time to review exactly who has access to where. Revoke access for those who shouldn’t have it, such as individuals whose cards should have expired but are still active in your system.

DO: Identify and limit entrances to ensure school access control.

Each entrance is a potential vulnerability. Identify your main entry points and limit your entrances. You should only keep those that are absolutely necessary, as this will allow you to better monitor and control the flow of people entering and exiting your facility.

DON’T: Lock out your First Responders

Ensure that Police, Fire, and EMS have access to all buildings in your school district.

DON’T: Let your Access Control software become outdated.

Your access control system should stay up to date, in order to unlock security patches and new features and functionality. Keep your firmware up to date. In most cases, simple updates can address many security vulnerabilities and ensure your system is functioning properly.

DON’T: Keep non-essential entrances.

Remove entry hardware from all exterior doors not designated as an entrance. Installing exit-only hardware like cover plates on these doors is a simple and cost-effective way to do that. This is a relatively simple step for organizations to take when they’re looking to increase their perimeter security.