Located in the small residential Long Island town of Locust Valley, NY, Friends Academy is an independent Quaker school offering K-12 education to approximately 780 students each year.
Founded in 1876 when businessman Gideon Frost purchased six acres of land for the sum of $688.95, today, Friends Academy encompasses 65 acres. In addition to upper, middle and lower, the school includes an early childhood center, a 400-seat state-of-the-art theater and extensive athletic fields. The school also offers a campus-wide wireless network, as well as a laptop loan program through the modern Kumar Library, which houses more than 50,000 volumes.
As is the case with most schools around the country, the safety and security of staff, students and visitors is a top priority for Friends Academy. In 2013, the school hired a security consultant who specializes in the education market to conduct a review to determine ways Friends Academy could improve overall security across its entire campus.
“Like anywhere else, our parents and the community in general are concerned about security, so we wanted to make sure we had the systems and policies in place that would deliver a high level of security and provide peace of mind that our school is as safe as possible,” said Chris Semlies, Director of Facilities.
The consultant identified a number of areas where security could be improved, including the need for Friends Academy to improve the ability for teachers and others to lock classroom doors more quickly in the event of an emergency. This particular finding didn’t exactly come as a surprise to Semlies, since concerns about the process had been voiced by a number of faculty and staff members.
“As they were set up before, you had to find your keys to be able to lock the door. The concern was that if there were an emergency or if they were in distress or if they were stressed out, would they be able to find their key quickly enough or would they be fumbling with the key, trying to put it in the keyhole?” he said. “It just seemed to be causing some angst with people that they would be worried about how much time they were wasting trying to lock their door with the key.”
Based on those concerns and the recommendations from the site survey, Friends Academy worked with the consultant to review a number of door locking solutions as part of the school’s larger security initiative to implement measures to address each of the areas where security could be improved. After evaluating the available door-locking options, the school chose Quick Intruder Deadbolt (QID) classroom locks from Securitech, based mainly on its ease of use and the speed with which doors could be locked.
“It was really one of the fastest options we found in terms of being able to lock a room without having to fumble for keys,” Semlies said. “It’s very simple and intuitive. You just hit the red button and the doors lock. We felt strongly that it was the best solution for us.”
In addition to the speed and ease of locking doors, Semlies felt that the deadbolt feature of QID locks made the solution a more secure option than those that incorporate a lever on a physical classroom door. Available in mortise and cylindrical lock models, the DHS-compliant QID functions as a day-to-day classroom lock but can instantly transform a classroom into a safe haven in an emergency situation. Designed to exceed government safe school standards, the QID also maintain the single-action egress required for the safety and security of classroom occupants.
Unlike barricade devices, QID locks are code-compliant and can be unlocked with a key from outside to allow first responders and other authorized staff to enter quickly.
Unlike barricade devices, QID locks are code-compliant and can be unlocked with a key from outside to allow first responders and other authorized staff to enter quickly. The ability to work with any access control or alarm system allows the QID to be easily deployed in any school environment without the need for a costly system upgrade or replacement.
The project entailed deploying more than 100 Securitech QID Locksets to secure classrooms, offices and other locations within the buildings that make up the Friends Academy campus. Installation wrapped up in time for the start of the school year.
Prior to the first day of school, Friends Academy conducted training sessions with all of its faculty and staff to educate them on the features of the locksets and demonstrate how to use them in an emergency. Given the ease of use of the QIDs, that training went very smoothly.
“It’s just a very straightforward, intuitive process to engage and disengage the QID,” Semlies said. “It was a no-brainer for them. They understood and appreciated the fact that with these locksets, they’re able to lock their door as fast as possible.”
Because there are times when a teacher or staff member might not be in a position to lock a door, Friends Academy also followed up with student trainings.
“Primarily, our staff would be responsible for locking doors, which was why we wanted to make sure they were properly trained first and foremost. But we also wanted students to know how to use the QIDs in case they needed to be the one to lock a door in an emergency,” Semlies said. “But from my perspective, it’s so intuitive that even if someone had never been to our campus before, I think they could figure it out; it’s just that easy.”
Friends Academy has also conducted drills to provide faculty and staff with practice not only with locking doors but also with the school’s policies and procedures. “Every time we’ve done a drill, it’s worked almost perfectly,” Semlies said.
Parents have also responded well to the new locks and other security improvements Friends Academy has made in the last couple of years. “We have relayed to the parents some of the security improvement measures we’ve put into place, and they appreciate those steps we’ve taken,” Semlies said. “In today’s world, I think parents would expect their children’s school to be doing things like this anyway.”
Semlies said the school has been very happy with the project, particularly the attention and responsiveness he’s received from Securitech.
“Securitech has been great about checking in with us and making sure the locksets are working well for us and to see how they’ve held up over the year,” Semlies said. “I think the locks are really well-made and machined, but you can tell the company is always looking for any improvements they can make, and they seem to value our input.”
As Friends Academy has future needs for additional door locking solutions, Securitech’s solution would be the obvious choice, Semlies said.
“We’re always planning renovations and things of that nature, so I think given how happy we’ve been with the new locksets, they will be our standard going forward to ensure consistency across campus,” he said.
Source: DHI.org, 2015; David Klein, Securitech Group Inc.