Door locks may return to Isle of Wight classrooms 

Published 6:08 pm Friday, March 31, 2023

Five years after spending over $60,000 to purchase active-shooter door barricades, Isle of Wight County Schools may soon finally be able to install them.

A month after the 2018 Parkland, Florida, school shooting, Isle of Wight County Schools purchased “Lockdown 1” door locks from Michigan-based Nightlock, which markets the device as being able to withstand 1,600 to 2,000 pounds of force during shelter-in-place events. The purchase was part of an $800,000-plus divisionwide security upgrade that had been in the works for the past year.

The school division spent $64,658 to equip 718 doors across its nine schools, but removed the locks in 2019 after receiving an email from the Virginia Department of Education stating that the devices “must be removed” due to potential conflicts with state fire codes.

In December, the division hired Jason Brinkley, a former Isle of Wight County sheriff’s deputy, as its new security and emergency management specialist. Brinkley told the School Board on March 9 that he’s looking into reimplementing the Nightlocks.

“I have had at-length conversations with my contacts from the State Fire Marshal’s Office to make sure we are in compliance with this, and without a doubt, we are,” Brinkley said.

Brinkley said he and other division staff have located all of the Nightlocks that were removed and have taken inventory of “what we’ll need going forward.”

At the time the division purchased the Nightlocks, the intent had been to place them in all existing schools, including the 1960s-era Hardy Elementary. The one-story Hardy is slated to be demolished at the end of the school year, save for a section that will be repurposed as the division’s new central office, and a new, two-story Hardy is set to open by September.