ROCKLAND — Principal Michelle Scheufele reports that approximately 50 families attended the first-ever Jefferson Elementary School ALICE information night in late May, as the Rockland Public Schools complete its roll-out of the training protocols for all employees and students district-wide.
ALICE, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, is a training that helps prepare individuals to handle the threat of an active shooter. It also teaches individuals to participate in their own survival, while leading others to safety during an act of violence. These skills sets seek to empower teachers, staff and students to make decisions that can save their lives. ALICE is considered the new “Standard of Care” and is endorsed by the U.S. Department of Education.
“ALICE is the gold standard, and its lessons are taught in public and private schools in all 50 states,” Principal Scheufele said. “We wish its existence was unnecessary, but in this age the Rockland Public Schools believe that each member of our school community should have the knowledge and skills that could make a difference if an unspeakable act were to ever occur.”
Rockland High School Vice Principal Kathy Paulding, School Resource Officer Ethan Schnabel and members of the Rockland Police Department trained all Rockland Public Schools employees on ALICE in October 2017.
A district-wide parent information night was held in March, and the Jefferson held its own on May 21, and free babysitting services and pizza were offered to encourage participation. School Psychologist Allison Sgambato and
Adjustment Counselor Taryn Muolo organized and led the presentation, which covered the basics of ALICE.
- ALERT is when you first become aware of a threat. The sooner you understand that you’re in danger, the sooner you can save yourself. A speedy response is critical. Seconds count.
- If immediate evacuation is not a safe option, LOCKDOWN and barricade entry points into your room in an effort to create a semi-secure starting point.
- Communicate the violent intruder’s location and direction in real time.
The purpose of INFORM is to continue to communicate information in as real time as possible, if it is safe to do so.
- ALICE Training does not believe that actively confronting a violent intruder is the best method for ensuring the safety of those involved. COUNTER is a strategy of last resort. Counter focuses on actions that create noise, movement, distance and distraction with the intent of reducing the shooter’s ability to shoot accurately.
- When safe to do so, EVACUATE and remove yourself from the danger zone.
During the information night, Officer Schnabel and Principal Scheufele were on-hand to answer questions and to inform parents about an ALICE drill that was held for all students on May 31.
“There is no one-size-fits-all approach to a disaster scenario, and ALICE provides students and staff members with several different options to help prepare them and instills lifelong safety lessons in our students,” said Sgambato.
In preparation for May 31, teachers read the book, “I’m Not Scared, I’m Prepared,” by Julia Cook, a book endorsed by the ALICE Training Institute, and developmentally appropriate for the elementary grades to introduce this difficult topic to all students. Sgambato, Muolo, and Officer Schnabel visited each classroom to discuss the ALICE drill, what to expect and what to do in an actual emergency if a “dangerous someone” entered the school.
Students participated in two types of drills; an evacuation and a lockdown with a barricade.
“Students knew exactly what to do and were confident and knowledgeable about ALICE and how to respond,” Principal Scheufele said.
The ALICE drill was successful, calm and empowering to students thanks in large part to the the deliberate and carefully planned roll-out of the program, the diligent preparation by Jefferson teachers, and the presentation and Q&A sessions in each classroom before the event.