As summer vacation draws to an end this year, families and educators are continuing to struggle with growing concerns of keeping students, faculty and visitors safe at school. As the number of active shooter incidents continues to rise, so does the number and variety of products flooding the market claiming to help protect people from those individuals who enter school property carrying firearms with the intent to kill.

The choices can be bewildering. Should schools equip every student with a bulletproof backpack? Purchase a software app to enable immediate communication between teachers and law enforcement? Install surveillance cameras in the hallways? While each solution has solid information to support its effectiveness, no school has the resources or time to consider them all – much less pay for, install and learn to use them.

Throughout the conversations, regulations and legislation swirling around active shooter response policies, all parties agree on one thing: the necessity of being able to quickly lock classroom doors in case of an incident. Locking these doors is the very first recommendation made in the Sandy Hook Advisory Commission Report:

RECOMMENDATION NO. 1: The SSIC Report includes a standard requiring classroom and other safe-haven areas to have doors that can be locked from the inside. The Commission cannot emphasize enough the importance of this recommendation. The testimony and other evidence presented to the Commission reveals that there has never been an event in which an active shooter breached a locked classroom door. Accordingly, the Commission reiterates its recommendation that all classrooms in K-12 schools should be equipped with locked doors that can be locked from the inside by the classroom teacher or substitute.

To date, as the report notes, no shooter has been able to enter a locked classroom – demonstrating the power of this strategy for keeping students and teachers safe.

Fortunately, compliant door locks can be among the most budget-friendly items on the long list of potential school safety solutions. Even there, the array of choices can be overwhelming, so a few factors should be part of your consideration.

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First, speed is paramount in an emergency. Classroom doors must be locked – immediately and securely. There is no time to search for keys or credentials; no time to perform whatever steps are needed to deploy a software solution that locks down the school. There is no time for adrenalin-shaky hands to put keys into locks or type in a pin or password. Whoever is closest to the door, whether it is a teacher or a five-year old student with physical disabilities, must be able to lock that door instantly from inside the classroom.

Next, for the students and teachers truly to be safe, it must be possible for first responders or authorized individuals to enter the room if necessary. If the room fills with smoke, or there are frightened, injured people hiding in a closet, law enforcement needs to be able to get inside to help them. This is not possible if the door has been barricaded – making barricades a dangerous choice for schools.

Finally, the door lock should be as easy and familiar to use as a light switch.

The best classroom door lock to keep students and teachers safe is one that offers all of these factors. Fortunately, this can also be an extremely cost-efficient choice that fits easily into even the tightest school budgets.

When it comes to protecting the lives of students, teachers and staff, it would be terrible to have to eliminate the best choices due to the need to save money. However, with the solutions available from Safe-Latch, you don’t have to.