Rock Hill School District, located in York County, S.C., welcomes nearly 18,000 students to its campuses each fall. It’s the largest district in the county and 11th largest in the state, sprawling more than 3.1 million square feet. It’s no surprise that the school district has gone the extra mile to secure its students, staff and facilities.
Fortunately, Rock Hill schools haven’t been victims of any serious or violent incidents. But they are readily prepared for emergency situations. The district has had to respond to police-related incidents in the past that have required lockdown out of caution.
“We have 31 locations,” says Tim Boan, access control technician for Rock Hill Schools. “When an incident like a robbery or police chase happens, we need to lock down two or three schools and ensure students are inside. Our school has gone the extra mile to make sure we have the proper training.”
In the event of a lockdown, police officers are the only people that can get someone into the building. Office staff, custodial and other employees must follow the school’s procedures for safety when outside of the building during a lockdown. This requires an advanced level of training and accountability. It also requires security solutions that make lockdown and access control possible.
The classroom and office-door locks are predominately a combination of Schlage® LE and NDE wireless electronic locks as well as some Schlage AD-400 wireless electronic locks. These integrate with the school’s access control software provider, which allows for lockdown across each building—and the entire district. It also allows staff like Boan the option to set up event schedules to reduce manual efforts.
While nearly all the schools are connected to the access control system, there was still a missing piece: the secondary perimeter openings. Staff still needed to manually lock, or undog, these doors.
Ideally, every opening in K-12 facilities would be connected to access control software. However, that historically was not practical—or affordable for most schools—so they had to come up with other means to secure these openings.
“Schools want the safest, most secure solutions to protect students and staff,” says Yong Lacy, Allegion Americas category leader, openings. “However, these schools are also up against tight budgets, so connecting all perimeter openings often was not an option. Instead, schools may have kept secondary openings locked throughout the day, but this required manual touring to verify the status of each opening.”
According to findings from the research group SMARI, it’s estimated that only half of secondary doors in schools with a networked access control system are connected, because the majority of available security funds are focused on the main entrances. Additionally, more than half of schools report that their perimeter doors are left unlocked or propped open, which results in vulnerabilities that compromise a building’s security solution—even one as advanced as Rock Hill.
To enhance perimeter security, Rock Hill decided to implement the Von Duprin® Remote Undogging option from Allegion. When paired with a leading access control software provider, Allegion’s Von Duprin upgrade kit solution is designed to extend access control to perimeter openings, making it ideal for K-12 facilities.
The Von Duprin RU retrofit kit for exit devices is a cost-effective solution for secondary openings that enables remote locking for centralized lock down, “dog on next exit” and door status monitoring with integrated request to exit (RX), latch bolt (LX) and door position switch (DPS) signaling capabilities. It connects wirelessly via Bluetooth Low Energy to Allegion’s ENGAGE™ Gateway, providing real-time, bi-directional communication to the S2 Netbox. RU is a modular battery powered kit that can be added on to existing Von Duprin 98/99 and 33A/35A Series devices.
Schools looking to improve key control can benefit from the “dog on next exit” feature. This enables staff to visit the door and actuate the push pad from the interior to enable push-pull operation at a scheduled time without the need for a key or credential. Likewise, to secure the door a schedule can be set for remote undogging for lock up.
The Von Duprin Remote Monitoring (RM) option is also available. It’s a sensor-only configuration for exit-only or fire-rated doors that require monitoring. It provides visibility to door status with the same RX, LX and DPS signals as the RU, without the centralized lockdown component.
Once the products were installed, the Von Duprin RU seamlessly integrated with the district’s access control software. This allows the schools to secure doors at any time, along with the rest of the locks that are connected to the access control software. It greatly simplifies lockdown procedures by reducing the need to manually tour the building.
“Before, security trumped convenience,” says Lacy. “Now, with the Von Duprin RU kit, schools can balance the two—keeping students and faculty safe while improving efficiencies for the staff. Removing the need to manually visit each opening is especially important in the event of emergency and saves valuable time. Plus, sending staff to manually lock a door puts them in harm’s way. Now they have peace of mind knowing that everything is controlled and monitored in real-time through a centralized platform.”
Kevin Wren, director of risk, security and emergency management for Rock Hill School District, agrees. “The Von Duprin RU allows our schools to lockdown the entire perimeter in seconds versus minutes. It happens with the push of a button instead of someone running from door to door to manually undog the opening. The more we are able to eliminate human error, the better we will be.”
Overall, the school is pleased with the perimeter security solution. Boan was especially satisfied when he learned the full range of capabilities, beyond locking the device remotely. The scheduling feature allows him to set up a schedule, walk away from the system and have it secure a facility the way he intended.
Another feature that excites Boan and Wren is the fact the solution can retrofit to work with their current hardware, eliminating the need to purchase new devices for every opening. “With this, we can use our existing exit devices, which will save costs compared to replacing our devices,” says Wren.
This will dramatically reduce future costs as the district intends to extend this solution to its other campuses.
“We rent our facilities quite a bit,” Boan says. “We’ll have 1,000 to 2,000 people inside our buildings to see a recital, and we have lots of doors. Instead of dogging doors, we can control them. And if there is an emergency, it’s amazing that we can control it the way we do through our access control system so that we don’t leave a door accidently unlocked. This device is a game-changer.”
Wren adds, “We’ve now eliminated the risk of a door being left unlocked overnight. Traditionally, following an event, someone had to manually secure all of the openings. If they forgot to lock a door, it would be left unsecured all night long. Now we can easily monitor all of the openings to ensure they are locked.”
The Rock Hill School District is a great example for schools looking to enhance their perimeter security measures. To learn more about the solution, contact Allegion at 877-671-7011 or visit us.allegion.com.