Students practice for fires and tornadoes. Why shouldn't students practice for school shootings?
Clarke Community School District will be implementing ALICE training. The idea behind the training is the first people who have to respond to a shooter are the teachers and students in a school building.
"We have to prepare, and the same goes for an intruder in the building," said Marcus Kious, juvenile court school liaison for Clarke, during a school board meeting June 24. "Be active. Be aggressive to survive. Our goal is to save lives."
ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.
Counter means taking action, as far as making a move or trying to survive. Not everything has to be done in that order should a shooting situation arise.
Kious said officials need to know where the immediate danger is, and the first goal in a situation is to evacuate the building, if possible.
"It depends on where we're at, at the time and place of the situation," he said.
With ALICE training, one of the first thing's Kious did was implement a team for the training, including teachers Ryan Sweeney at the middle/high school and Craig Wisniewski at the elementary school.
"Right now we have a team in place," Kious said. "We feel really confident in implementing the program."
ALICE training does not cost the district, Kious said.
Clarke isn't the first school district in the state of Iowa that has implemented or will be implementing ALICE training.
"There's a lot of schools that are implementing the program. But, our goal is to be one of the best ALICE-trained schools in the state," Kious said. "My thought is, we may not be the first, but I want to be one of the best to implement the program."
During the school board meeting, a video was shown of students practicing a lockdown, which included shutting blinds, staying quiet, locking doors, moving to a wall farthest away from windows or doors and turning off lights.
Kious asked if this was all students and teachers need to know and do.
"Again, we're not changing the lockdown philosophy, we still believe in lockdown," he said. "Our thoughts are, we're going to enhance lockdown; we're going to improve it; we're going to get better at what we do."
Another video was shown of students and teachers practicing fighting back during a school shooting. The video depicted students throwing textbooks and charging the shooter in a classroom.
More information on this type of training is found at www.responseoptions.com.
Kious said it was his goal to implement ALICE training for all grades within the district, not just the middle and high schools. However, everything is age appropriate. Small children won't be rushing a shooter with textbooks.
Another goal was to make sure all school officials, law enforcement and other emergency officials know where the emergency safe-zones are located during an evacuation.
"I think that should be a team effort," Kious said.
According to Kious, statistics show most school-shooting situations only have one shooter.
"There have been instances where two shooters come around, but right now, we're going on what information we know about," he said. "We're going on one shooter at a time. If something else would happen, we would have to act at that time."
What can we do?
A comment was made about being able to to lock doors from the inside, and doors in the district might only have doors that lock from the outside, and in a high-pressure situation, manual dexterity is hard to maintain.
Another idea was to have a kit in a classroom room with water and snacks, in case students have to wait many hours before law enforcement clears a building after a shooting.
Kious said, with the staff he has, he's confident with implementing ALICE training into the Clarke School District.
"Are locked doors good? Yeah, locked doors are good. (Are) more cameras good? Sure, more cameras are great," he said. "But, we just need to figure out what we can afford to do, and do it, and roll with it and work with it."