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ALICE Parent Letter

By Burns, Kelly

April 09, 2014

STUDENT SAFETY:  March 31, 2014

Dear Avery ISD Parent/Guardian:

 

Over the past several years we have seen a dramatic increase in school violence and school shootings. As the experts analyze these horrific events it is apparent that we need to do more, not only taking steps in an attempt to prevent the event from occurring but training of students and staff on procedures that we all need to survive an active shooter in our schools.

 

If you look at what has occurred in our schools and colleges throughout the country it is evident that if an armed intruder wants to get into any school building, there is a good chance that they probably will succeed. The fact is, even though the Avery Independent School District has taken great steps in the matter of securing our school buildings, i.e. installing monitored entry systems and installing additional cameras throughout our school buildings, one question still needs to be answered. What if?

 

In the past, schools across the country have answered that question with a method we call Lockdown. That system is designed that in the event an unauthorized person enters the school buildings or grounds, a Lockdown alert is given and students and staff are instructed to lock their classrooms with lights outs and to hide in a far corner of the classroom, while remaining calm and quiet. This is probably the procedure that you as parents followed some years ago. However does this answer our question? History has shown that Lockdown is a tool that we all should use, but is it the only tool that we should be using? The answer to that can be found by the number of students that have been killed or seriously wounded during school shootings, students that were shot and killed hiding under a desk or huddled up in a corner of a classroom, library or cafeteria. Can we expect a fully armed person that enters our school buildings with the intent to do harm to our children to simply leave when they find that the classroom door is locked? Knowing what we know about active shooters in school buildings and other public places, the answer is NO. They have already made the decision to kill when they armed themselves and entered that building.

 

Another known fact is that in almost all of the shootings that occur in schools, the shooter usually creates as much carnage as they can in a short period of time and then kill themselves before police even arrive. So, how do we give our students and staff a greater chance of surviving an active shooter? We give them more tools.

 

Avery Independent School District has adopted and began implementation of a new procedure that we, as well as experts across the country, believe will increase the chance of survival during an active shooter incident.   We started by training the staff and then holding a parent/community meeting, which was published in the Clarksville Times, on our Website, Marquee, Facebook page, and an Elementary note reminder was sent home as well.  This new procedure will teach our staff and students the A.L.I.C.E. system. What does it mean?

 

Alert

Get the word out! Armed Intruder in the building instead of the use of any codes. Use clear, concise language to convey the type and specific location of the event.

Lockdown Good starting point. We will continue to Lockdown students in secure areas.
Inform Continuation of the use of clear, concise language to convey the type and specific location of the event.  Communication keeps the Shooter off balance and allows for good decision-making.          
Counter Apply Skills to Distract, Confuse and gain Control.
Evacuate

Reduce the number of Potential Targets for the shooter, and reduce chances of victims resulting from friendly fire when help arrives.

                        

                  

 

 

 

 

 

 

The philosophy of A.L.I.C.E. is to use technology and information in a way so that staff and students can make informed decisions in a crisis, remove as many people as possible from the danger zone, and provide realistic training so that those involved have a better chance of surviving.

 

In short, using the above ALICE method we will teach our students and staff multiple tools to use in order to evade an armed intruder/active shooter/killer who enters our school, including: 

 

1. Listen carefully to the location and type of event.

2. Get to and/or remain in a secure area until it is safe to evacuate.

3. Should an armed intruder/active shooter invade their area, apply skills to Distract, Confuse and Gain Control.

4. As soon as it is safe to do so, Evacuate.

 

Please understand, in NO WAY are we asking or teaching our students or staff to make any attempt to subdue an armed gunman outside of their secure area. However, we will provide them the knowledge that if faced with a life or death situation there are methods that can be applied to greatly enhance their chance of survival. The methods that will be taught in the event an armed gunman directly confronts them are:

 

· Cause distractions to interfere with the ability to shoot accurately

· Cause as much chaos in the room as possible to create sensory overload

· Do not be a stationary target

· How to control the attacker using body weight, not strength (not for younger children)

· How to interact with responding Law Enforcement

 

Younger students need constant reminders of safe practices (much like you may already do for ‘stranger danger’), in order for them to make good decisions related to their personal safety.  Parents can prepare their child(ren) for the A.L.I.C.E. plan by helping them understand the following objectives at home:

 

  • There are people, of all ages, color, and types that can be mean and may wish them harm.
  • Self-confidence comes from trying things that are hard and getting better each time.
  • There are many solutions and options when faced with a problem.
  • When your child is prepared for difficult situations they can make informed decisions and will have more self-control.
  • Your child is smart and capable if they have the tools.
  • Help your child identify and assess possible crisis situations.
  • Have your child demonstrate the ability to get away from someone who has their hands on them. (Stranger Danger)
  • Have your child explain the different safety drills and what they mean. (Fire, Tornado, Evacuation, Lockdown, Shelter in Place, and ALICE)
  • Help your child name where they need to go in case of evacuation.
  • Discuss the importance of following the teacher’s directions without hesitation.

 

Training will emphasize that the best way to survive an active shooter is to escape. When that is not possible, being mentally prepared and having been given the authority and ability to act will save lives.

 

Please contact the principal at your child’s school with any questions or concerns.  You may also contact me directly.  Avery ISD will continue to put your child’s safety as our top priority.

 

Our Sincerest Appreciation,

 

 

 

Kelly Burns                                                Daniel Pritchett                        Rhonda Jeans

Superintendent of Schools                        High School Principal            Elementary/Middle School Principal

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