ALICE Drills Pose Risk to Students

Various flaws within each step of process create confusion

With more reports of school shootings every year, Blake has decided to implement federally endorsed lockdown drills in the hopes of ensuring the safety of their students should anything happen. ALICE, which is a series of protocols, stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate, and contains  some of the original lockdown, but new layers as well. Even though the school believes that the ALICE procedures have our best interests at heart, the plan is flawed, and creates unsafe conditions for everyone involved.

For starters, why do high school students need a lockdown procedure? Presumably at this point we all know how to handle our personal safety. On top of that, staying locked in a room allows for more targets for a potential assailant and does not necessarily save lives. Still, the program is being enforced, which is problematic because the only training or information that the school has provided was a fifteen minute video with a target audience younger than high schoolers.

The program starts with an alert, stating that there is an intruder and to begin the ALICE protocol. Doors are locked, students are counted and lights are turned off. Although this is safer than being out in the open, the Lockdown procedure leaves for vulnerable students because the locks in the school can be easily broken. Another issue is if an intruder gets into the classroom, there is no way for students to escape.

Inform is not a step, but a plan. Instant communication and updates of the intruder is one of the better aspects of the program, allowing for less panic and better planning for safe escape routes.

However, the Counter protocol leaves a lot to be desired. Asking students and faculty to fight back against an intruder is risky, especially in classrooms with less materials. Is asking students to fight against dangerous assailant safe? 

Finally in the ALICE protocol is Evacuation. In the Evacuate procedure, real time information is used to help teachers make the best decision on when and how to get their students out of the building safely. After evacuation, students are expected to meet at a designated spot, leaving them exposed to further attacks, confused as to what is going on, and panicked all together.

Although all lockdown procedures have their flaws – unsafe conditions, disorientation, unnecessary panic for drills – the ALICE procedure offers up even more. Although both the Alert and Inform steps of the protocol are well planned out, the rest of the procedure is questionable at best. Asking high school students to counter attack an assailant is foolish and dangerous. Lockdowns in classrooms, especially in areas with less materials and/or more windows, are unsustainable and put students at risk no matter how well executed they are. And evacuation, especially from upper level floors, is idiotic. Asking students to plan an escape route from their school creates a sense of unrest, and fear for an unlikely tragedy. Although it is a good idea to have a plan in place, the ALICE procedure is not the right one for Blake.