Let’s face it, the events at Sandy Hook (and now San Bernardino – Dec. 2015) are tragic at best and a reminder that the human spirit can unleash horrific brutality among its own kind. In light of this event many of our schools are asking what to do to safeguard its students.
Deadbolts sound like a great idea, but as their name implies they can be fatal, especially when used in classrooms housing elementary students. Not to mention, as all great risk managers know, deadbolts violate many fire and life safety regulations. In California, OSHA, the building code and the State Fire Marshall require single action egress hardware. This means one action – PUSH. Not, turn key and push. Just think what would happen if there was fire in your kindergartner’s classroom and the teacher was fumbling around looking for the keys.
The past two legislative terms have brought significant improvements to classroom door locking, essentially requiring all new and modernized schools to have locks that lock from the interior of the classroom. This was a result from the Virginia Tech shooting. However, that doesn’t do any thing for the million classroom doors in the state of California that are from 1950.
As we search for answers we have to hold are emotions at bay and use due diligence and critical thinking skills to assess the various solutions. Don’t make the mistake of creating bigger hazards by try to fixing the little one, (in this case locking one door versus locking down a campus). Remember fires and sexual molestation cases far out number active shooters incidents. They may be survivable, but the lawsuits aren’t.