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Safety of students and staff is of the upmost importance to Springfield Public Schools, and while tragic and highly covered by media, school violence is actually quite rare.
We at SPS are acutely aware of the tragic nature of such situation and are committed to equipping our schools with the best practices to keep everyone safe. The way that we have trained for dangerous intruders is not changing, it is evolving. SPS is implementing best practices and is working in collaboration with our local law enforcement partners to implement the ALICE method.
ALICE empowers everyone to use his or her best judgment on each unique situation.
ALICE stands for Alert Lockdown Inform Counter Evacuate.
Here you will find resources and materials for staff, parents and the community to better understand both the ALICE response method and the way in which it will be implemented here at SPS.
About ALICE Training
Our district has been making some important changes to our approach to emergency training for staff. Many districts, including Eugene 4J and Bethel, are implementing similar changes, consistent with the national ALICE training model.
Discussions about increasing school violence are uncomfortable, but we need to change how we respond should an incident happen so that we minimize the danger to students and staff.
All district staff were directed to participate in this mandatory training before the school year began.
Schools can click here to
What has emergency training looked like in the past for our district?
Previously, SPS schools are trained in response to two levels of alert: Code Blue lockout (where doors are locked against a potential external threat) and Code Red lockdown (everyone must move to a securable location under adult supervision).
In a lockdown situation, meaning that danger is imminent, staff are trained to stay in their classrooms, lock their doors, move students away from doors and windows, and remain quietly until the all-clear is given.
This strategy, however, has come under scrutiny, given that it does not account for the variety of situational factors that can occur.
For example, if the incident happens before or after school and/or students are in various locations, such as at passing time, lunch, PE or open campus. Also, data indicates that traditional lockdown procedures actually serve to create identifiable targets in a violent intruder situation. Since most situations are over by the time law enforcement arrives, it’s not reasonable to expect an event to end spontaneously.
What do law enforcement officials recommend?
Because no single response fits all events, we need to make sure that every individual knows his or her options and can act decisively to select the best course of action.
Our district’s SROs (school resource officers) have highly recommended a new approach, referred to as ALICE, which is becoming widely known as the new “best practice” approach to safety training.
Other districts across the state are also considering moving to this approach, and locally we are collaborating with Eugene and Bethel school districts to make sure that training is consistent across all schools and across our communities.
So, what is ALICE?
ALICE stands for Alert • Lockdown • Inform • Counter • Evacuate. The components are NOT sequential and do NOT constitute a checklist. Staff will need to rely on the information at hand and their own judgment to determine the safest course of action.
The approach is an alternative to the more passive “hunker down” approach of the past, designed to empower individuals to participate actively in their own survival, while leading others to safety.
There are no guarantees, but the widespread belief is that these new skill sets will greatly increase the odds of survival should anyone face an active shooter situation.
Specific advice varies depending on what level of student is concerned. For example, elementary students will obviously need to wait for direction from teachers and staff.
How is the training made specific for each school?
Training will be specific to each school’s layout and location. Schools will work to identify:
School resource officers Darin Vetter and Erik Todd will be visiting schools this fall to review evacuation strategies, rally points and processes. The officers will begin with elementary schools, followed by middle and then high schools.
How does this affect student training?
Once staff are all trained, we will begin to implement the concepts of the ALICE response method with students, in age appropriate ways. As with any such training, the idea is not to make the students scared, but to give them the knowledge that they need to be more confident, competent and calm in the event of an emergency.
How can families talk to students about this?
Young students need constant reminders of safe practices in order for them to make good decisions about personal safety. Parents can help students to prepare for ALICE by helping them understand the following objectives at home:
Statistics cited were from an FBI report, “A Study of Active Shooter Incidents in the United States between 2000 and 2013” and the New York City Police Department (NYPD), “Active Shooter: Recommendations and Analysis for Risk Mitigation,” 2012 Edition.