School safety is a topic that is talked about frequently at meetings, by parents and staff, and is in the media on a regular basis. There are new laws, mandates and procedures that school districts must follow. Among those are the intruder drills that we have now added to the list of regular drills we already complete such as fire, tornado and lockdown. During those drills, teachers and students have to make decisions based upon the information they have during the drill and where the intruder is located in the building. Our goal is to make it as realistic as we can without unduly frightening students. We want them to be able to think during a stressful situation, yet know that they are safe in the process.
Already within the first two weeks of school, we had bus evacuation drills and a fire drill. Sept. 17 will be our first ALICE (intruder) drill. ALICE is the response program we utilize, which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. Those are all related to the choices we have in situations. Do we stay put and hide? Can we barricade ourselves in the room? Is there a way to get away from the area and evacuate? Are we going to be forced to confront the intruder as a last resort? When we confront, how can we do that and what resources can we use to distract and disarm?
The safety of our students/staff is always paramount in any situation. In thinking about how our students and staff respond in drills, it called to mind a book written by Lt. Col. Dave Grossman about three kinds of people: sheep, sheep dogs and wolves. In our society, Grossman contends that 98 percent of us are sheep; kind, decent, not capable of hurting others intentionally. Then there is the 1 percent who are absolute wolves; evil people capable of evil deeds who feed on the unsuspecting sheep. And then there’s the sheep dogs; those who live to protect the flock and confront the wolf; those who intimidate those who intimidate others. In any dangerous, risky situation it's important that a sheep dog emerges for the sheep to follow. This is an important truth that we hope our students/staff learn during the intruder drills.
The teacher or principal may not be in a position to be the sheep dog in all scenarios. So our students need to possess the courage and leadership skills to step up, and rest assured they will act. We have sheep dogs among us, though often times it’s those we would never expect to step up. We hear those kinds of stories all the time where the ordinary person, young or old, who is the most unlikely hero acts in a way that astounds others.
As parents if you hear your child talking about a drill at school, it’s an opportunity to talk over responses in emergency situations. Not only are there situations in schools, but also out in the community, at the gym, in church, at the mall, on campus, in the movie theater, at the grocery store or in the airport. It's the ability to study your surroundings and be in a mindset to react if necessary. Denial that potential evil exists in any location puts us in a "sheep" mentality that can leave us unprepared to react. Some may say that kind of thinking is paranoid, while others would tell you it’s just smart thinking. Discussing responses to danger in a variety of scenarios helps our children feel like they have choices, power and opportunities to respond in ways that yield more favorable results.
If you ever have any questions about our drills or responses, please contact one of the offices. Sometimes drills throughout the year will be announced, and sometimes not. Just like life, we cannot predict when situations will occur. We can only attempt to prepare for when they do. That's our goal with all the drills we practice, and the safety of the students and staff is always the most important intended outcome.