Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion  In this Jan. 22, 2015 file photo, students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration of a shooter coming after students, during an ALICE -  Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training in Soldotna, Alaska.

Photo by Rashah McChesney/Peninsula Clarion In this Jan. 22, 2015 file photo, students at Soldotna High School watch a demonstration of a shooter coming after students, during an ALICE - Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate - training in Soldotna, Alaska.

Schools refine A.L.I.C.E. protocol

  • By Kelly Sullivan
  • Monday, May 18, 2015 11:28pm
  • News

Classes around the Kenai Peninsula have been refining a new intruder response protocol through mock drills and a recent series of unrelated, emergency situations.

A.L.I.C.E. Training, an acronym for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate,” began for administration before the start of the school year, and by December was being taught to students. Monday, fourth grade Mountain View Elementary school student Wade Williams learned how to evacuate through the window in Dave Daniel’s classroom.

“I like this training better because if an intruder is in our room then we won’t be just huddled together and it’s easier for him to come get us,” Williams said. “It’s not just hiding the corner like we used to.”

The elementary school had practice lockdown Wednesday, the same day Kalifornsky Beach Elementary and Skyview Middle School received automated phone threats eventually deemed not credible.

Kalifornsky Beach Elementary School went into a full lockdown as soon as the call was received Wednesday, school district spokesperson Erkeneff said. Soon after, Alaska State Troopers advised school administration to move into what the school district calls “stay put mode,” which is not an A.L.I.C.E. response, she said.

The school district is still defining emergency response terms, Erkeneff said. In “stay put mode,” previously called a “modified lockdown,” exterior doors are locked and all students are required to either enter or stay inside school district buildings while class instruction continued as normal, she said.

“We trust our principals to respond appropriately,” Erkeneff said. “It was the safest and best thing to do in that situation.”

Kenai Central High School went into a full lockdown and implemented A.L.I.C.E. protocol on April 14, when a 15-year-old student sent a peer threatening text messages, which involved “a depiction of a gun,” according to a previous Clarion article.

Principal Alan Fields said his students were prepared for the event and responded appropriately. Training is the same for ninth-grade through 12th-grade, he said.

The new procedure requires as much information as is available be given to staff and students through out an event, Fields said. Details, including the type of threat and where the threat is in relation to staff and students, are continuously announced over the loud speaker, he said.

While the schools handle a potential lockdown, the school district administration provides up-to-date information to parents, Fields said. While there is no structure in A.L.I.C.E. specifically addressing whether or not students are allowed to text parents and friends during an event, information is being relayed regardless, he said.

Parents want information about the situation as much as their students do, Erkeneff said.

“That’s just the nature of communication in the world right now,” Erkeneff said.

Erkeneff said there are several ways parents can receive information on a school-related emergency: directly from the school, the school district website and social media, phone alerts — including text and voicemail — email, and through the subscription-based KPBSD Mobile Application.

Parents want information about the situation as much as their students do, Erkeneff said.

Erkeneff said families should maintain up-to-date contact information at their student’s schools in the online information system PowerSchool and with the school district, so updates are received during an emergency event.

“We ask parents be patient and trust the district is putting things in place,” Erkeneff said.

Depending on the situation, if friends and family react incorrectly it can compromise law enforcement response, Erkeneff said.

Alaska State Troopers and local law enforcement respond immediately when there is determined to be an emergency at a school, said Kenai School Resource Officer Alex Prins.

Once on site, police will assess and evaluate the situation as it progresses, Prins said. A.L.I.C.E. protocol helps schools prepare for how to respond during the time between when a call is put in and law enforcement actually arrives on the scene, he said.

Prins originally proposed the A.L.I.C.E. protocol to the school district last year. He has helped with training in each of the six schools in Kenai and said students are responding well.

“This program made the most sense of all the programs I have seen,” Prins said.

Fourth grade Mountain View Elementary teacher Dave Daniel he was struck by footage of an active shooter Prins presented to staff this year.

“It was very sobering and very serious, but it gave us the chance to start thinking about it,” Daniel said.

A.L.I.C.E. protocol gives teachers more autonomy to make safety decision for their students, Daniel said. If an intruder is on the other side of the building, the teacher can evacuate their class and run to a safe place, he said.

If an intruder is across the hallway a teacher can help his students barricade the door and if the intruder is in the classroom the teacher and students can “throw books like mad, to distract and disorient,” where as before they would “lay there quiet as church mice,” Daniel said.

Mountain View Assistant Principal William Withrow said overall training this year has gone well. Language is specifically tailored to be age appropriate for Kindergarten through fifth grade, he said.

The school will continue to work closely with the Kenai Police Department on ironing out details such as covering hinges on windows if students need to evacuate and planning escape routes next fall, Withrow said.

Reach Kelly Sullivan at kelly.sullivan@peninsulaclarion.com

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