A.L.I.C.E to replace Lockdown drill

Hannah Kopek, Staff Writer

A new system of lockdown is coming soon, under the acronym A.L.I.C.E. (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate).
“We are looking at a total of three years before the A.L.I.C.E. is fully up and running. There will be several phases to this process. We have rolled the idea/concept out to the staff. We need to get that same information to the community, parents, and students. After that we will look to start the actual training of staff and students,” Matthew Ambrose, assistant principal, said.
Teachers and staff attended an informational seminar at the beginning of the school year to learn about A.L.I.C.E., but they have not been formally trained. According to Ambrose, teachers had a positive reaction to the concept of the new protocol.
“I think it will be a better system: It allows people to act instead of being sitting patos,” Xiomara Colé, Spanish teacher, said. This new system allows teachers to decide what is best for the safety of their classes, whether the best option would to be to evacuate or barricade the classroom.
“The A.L.I.C.E. is an enhancement to the one-size-fits-all lockdown system that is currently in place. It allows the staff to tailor the building response to a specific situation,” Jason Kopek, school resource officer, said.
The new system integrates simple tactics to keep students and school personnel safe in a dangerous situation.
“It’s important to remember that the events in a lockdown situation may not occur in the exact order as the acronym. It [the acronym] is a simple way to remember what to do. For example, a threat may arise in the freshman center, and someone would alert the building to the threat. Most likely, the main building would be sealed off and students and staff would be evacuated, and the freshman center would go on lockdown. Anyone in immediate danger would barricade the nearest classroom. There would always be a direct line of communication between administration and the authorities,” Kopek said.
Although the program allows students and staff to take action, the main idea is to keep the building safe.
“People get caught up in the philosophy of a counter, but it’s really only a last resort. Students and staff are expected to work to make the classroom more secure until the building can be evacuated safely,” Kopek said. The program’s aim is to keep students and staff safe in a situation in which the security of a school is compromised.
“We picked this program in coordination with the Plainfield Police department, and felt that it gave our staff and students the best chance to survive in a possibly life threatening situation,” Ambrose said.
“Over the years, fire safety in schools has evolved so that school fire fatalities are virtually unheard of these days. New systems like A.L.I.C.E. have been developed so that fatalities by a school shooter will be virtually unheard of,” Kopek said.
More schools across the nation have embraced the new system after tragic instances like the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in 2012, according to the A.L.I.C.E. training institute.
“Until the new system is in place, and even for when it is, I encourage students to tell a member of the staff if they see anything suspicious. In this day and age, it’s important to speak up,” Kopek said.