With an eye toward helping keep students and staff safe utilizing the latest information regarding school security, the Saucon Valley School District will conduct an age-appropriate ‘ALICE’ drill next week.
The acronym ‘ALICE’ stands for Alert-Lockdown-Inform-Counter-Evacuate, and the ALICE program represents a change in terms of how experts believe schools should respond to a violent threat, according to an email sent by Superintendent Dr. Craig Butler to parents last week.
“Historically, schools have answered the potential of an armed intruder with a method we call lockdown,” Butler said. “In the event an unauthorized person enters the school buildings or grounds, a lockdown alert is given and students and staff are instructed to lock their classroom doors, turn off lights, hide in a far corner of the classroom and remain calm and quiet… However, we have since gained more knowledge about providing students and staff with additional options in the case of an armed intruder.”
Butler described ALICE as an “enhanced lockdown plan” that “experts across the country believe will increase the chances of survival in the unfortunate case of an active shooter incident.”
The five specific components of ALICE are the following:
- Alert – Communicate using clear concise language and describe the location of the intruder. The teacher makes a decision to lockdown or evacuate.
- Lockdown – Lockdown will include locking the door, but also barricading so as to deny entry.
- Inform – Continual communication keeps the staff and students informed and provides for good decision making.
- Counter – Apply skills of movement, noise, distance, distractions and using all abled students and staff to gain control of the situation. This is utilized only if evacuation or lockdown are not possible.
- Evacuate – Reduce the number of potential targets for the shooter, and reduce chances of injuries resulting from random fire.
“We are not asking, nor teaching, our students or staff to make any attempt to subdue an armed gunman outside their secure area,” Butler said. “However, we will provide them with options that, if faced with a life or death situation, can be applied to greatly enhance their chance of survival.”
“ALICE training emphasizes the best way to survive an active shooter is to evacuate, when possible,” he added.
An age appropriate drill related to ALICE will be held the week of Nov. 5-9, 2018, with students kept fully informed of the drill and trained prior using ALICE strategies, according to the Oct. 25 email.
Any parents with questions about the ALICE training and drill should contact Butler, who said “we look forward to working with the students to provide the necessary skills they need if confronted with an armed intruder.”
Butler has said the district is working with the Lower Saucon Township Police Department on updating school security protocols. The district has not hired a school resource officer–as some others in the area have recently–but that is still a matter for possible consideration, he has said.
In the email, Butler said the Saucon Valley School District has taken significant steps in terms of securing its schools by locking exterior doors, “installing monitored entry systems and installing security cameras.”
Last week, when a student reported seeing a man outside walking along the perimeter of the campus with a rifle on his shoulder and carrying ammunition, the Lower Saucon and Hellertown borough police departments both responded but found no one, he said in an earlier email.
“The Saucon Valley School District is committed to providing the safest possible environment for students and employees,” Butler stated.