More school districts in Iowa are looking at a new approach to training for a possible shooting. The new program is called “ALICE,” or “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Escape.” It teaches students and teachers and students to try to escape a shooter or confront them if needed instead of just locking doors and waiting for police to arrive.
Newton Schools Superintendent Steve McDermott, talked with schoolboard members this week about ALICE and plans to coordinate emergency plans with other districts in Jasper County. McDermott said at least two other districts in the count are pursuing ALICE training, although he concedes it has raised questions.
“There are schools that are concerned that we’re training staff or students to target and attack an active shooter. Well, that’s certainly not the first priority, or the second or third, however, if you do come in contact with that person, we feel like folks do need to have some sort of plan,” McDermott said.
There are trainers for the program in Jasper County, and McDermott said using them is the best way to implement the program.
“This isn’t somebody coming in from another state to do this training, these are local people who understand the potential here for certain incidents. And so I think that will help us with that,” according to McDermott. “…also, I want you to understand should understand of all the ages of students we have, we’ll have to be developmentally appropriate. This will be different for a kindergartner than it will be for a fourth grader and will be different for a ninth grader in certain situations.”
McDermott says the Newton district will need to practice emergency plans more than in the past, and practice them in a way that they will not scare children. Eldridge Police Chief, David Kopatich said recently in a conference call with Congressman Dave Loebsack that his department is training staff in the North Scott school district in the ALICE program. Other districts in eastern Iowa are also getting the ALICE training.
By Randy Van, KCOB, Newton