Emergency school locks put to the test

Safety in the classroom
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)
(Source: KAIT)

GREENE COUNTY, AR (KAIT) - More and more schools around Region 8 have invested their money and faith in a product made right here in Arkansas to protect students in case of an emergency.

Schools like Marmaduke, Riverside, Osceola, and Paragould purchased hundreds of ULockits for their classrooms.

The product consists of a red U-bar, two metal holsters that the bar slides into, some screws and a metal plate.

Its website states the lock was "built to stop any threat to gain precious time."

"Oh, I love it because it makes us feel a lot more safe," Marmaduke teacher Alison West said.

West teaches 4- to 6-year-olds.

Her school purchased ULockits about two years ago for every classroom.

Region 8 News put those locks to the test to see if they can keep a school intruder out.

Superintendent Tim Gardner said when they first purchased the locks, the protocol was to lockdown and stay in the room.

Now they try to get out of the room to meet at a safe, designated location.

If an intruder entered the school, Marmaduke's policy is to make an announcement over the intercom.

That is when teachers would place their lock into place.

"It would probably take me 5 seconds to do it," West said.

With locks in place, West said she would move her children away from the doors and out of sight from someone walking the halls.

"Honestly, I may be in a panic but these kids are the most important thing and keeping them safe is what really matters," West said. "They need somebody who is going to be brave for them, so they know they are taken care of."

The school installed their locks further down on the door to prevent anyone from breaking the glass to reach in and pull the lock out of place.

The bar for their locks is also kept on the door so teachers or students can easily move it from unlocked to locked.

The Paragould School District also installed the locks.

Jeremy Mangrum, assistant superintendent of secondary education, said they also have had their locks for about two years.

"Unfortunately in this day and age you have to prepare for the worst, and if you're not doing that then you're not being responsible," Mangrum said.

The school's superintendent looked into the ULockit product before purchasing them for the entire district.

Mangrum said she went through multiple agencies, including the Arkansas Department of Education, to make sure what they were buying was legitimate.

Paragould's alert system is similar to Marmaduke's.

If an intruder entered the building, an announcement would be made over the intercom. The school's doorknobs are always locked.

What they do differently is each teacher has an app on their phone that will provide updates during a situation.

Instead of keeping the bars for their locks on their doors, teachers like Tim Lamb keep them in a desk drawer.

When asked if he worried about a person being able to break through the glass on his door and opening the lock, Lamb said no.

He said if that were to occur, the person on the other side would be bombarded with objects.

Lamb explained they also go through A.L.I.C.E. training, which calls for fighting back if need be.

Both Lamb and Mangrum said they trust the ULockit to keep their children safe if something were to happen in their halls.

When the locks at Marmaduke were put to the test, the door did not open.

We tried with the door handle unlocked and only the top part of the door would move.

The bottom section, where the lock was located, did not move an inch.

When the handle was locked again, the entire door stayed shut.

As someone tried to force their way inside, Gardner and West sat and talked in the classroom.

"I was like he's not getting that open," West said. "Especially when he locked it, I was like no he's not going to get that door open. And then you were pulling on it, so it was very humorous, it was kinda interesting to watch you struggle."

West continued to say that she always had confidence in the product. Following a demonstration of the lock in her classroom, her confidence remains.

"It's a very small price to pay to make sure and keep your students safe," Gardner said. "After your demonstration today that just kind of reinforced what I already knew: how well they would work. I'm very happy with them."

Both Gardner and Mangrum said they know these products are not the ultimate product to keeping people out.

They agree these products are part of a much larger security plan.

"I don't think you can ever say anything is just 100% going to work every time," Mangrum said. "But we use multiple measures to provide the safest environment possible and this is something we felt like was a worthy investment and something that just made sense for us."

ULockit is not the only product on the market that boasts keeping intruders out of a classroom.

Other products include The Barracuda from Bilco and the Nightlock Lockdown.

The ULockit was simply the product most schools in Region 8 purchased to keep their children safe.

Copyright 2016 KAIT. All rights reserved.

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