WORTHINGTON — During the first week of October, Independent School District 518 began instructing students of all grade levels on ALICE, the district’s crisis management protocol. ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. This crisis management process is not a process meant to be done in order, but instead a list of options to be considered at all times during a crisis event, such as an intruder in a school. At each moment in a crisis, District 518 has empowered staff and students to take the course of action that best suits their exact situation.
To make sure students were comfortable with the ALICE system, an entire week of lessons and drills was committed to the topic. Throughout the course of the week of Sept. 30 through Oct. 4, educators at ISD 518 gave lessons on each component of ALICE and how and when they should be utilized. Drills designed around using these skills were also ran. These drills allowed students to test out their new skills in a safe environment and reinforced their decision making abilities in crisis situations.
Since the week of lessons and drills, our district students, staff and ALICE Committee members have had a chance to reflect and share their feelings on the week and the steps ISD 518 has taken to prepare for crisis situations. At the Oct. 15 school board meeting, student representative Aunna Groenewold shared the feelings of some of the student body.
Groenewold stated that while students felt uneasy about the topic to begin the week, the confidence they felt in the fact that ISD 518 has a plan for all staff and students began to feel like a comfort. Appreciation of the supportive staff throughout the process was also shared.
District 518 staff have reported similar feedback from the week across all grade levels. Staff reported that students were engaged with the lessons and asked important questions. Through the training staff received over the course of the last year, district employees were able to answer the questions that arose. Thinking through the possible scenarios of a crisis situation is a difficult thing to do, but it is important to be prepared for these situations, just the same as we are for fires or severe weather such as tornadoes.
Over the summer, ISD 518 revisited its district-wide crisis management plan and brought all aspects of it up to date with the newly implemented ALICE system. This plan was presented to the school board for review and was approved at the beginning of the school year. The plan contains all the details necessary for ISD 518 to handle a crisis situation should one arise. This detailed plan is available to everyone within the district and is reviewed by administration every year with building crisis teams.
Informational meetings around the implementation of ALICE were held for the public leading up to the ALICE Week of Sept. 30 through Oct. 4. For more information on the crisis management plan in place at ISD 518 or the ALICE system, please contact the district at 372-2172.
Parker Sandhurst is District 518's communications coordinator and an ALICE Committee member.