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ALICE Frequently Asked Questions

To ensure schools are prepared to proactively handle the threat of an intruder or active shooter, the Ames CSD utilizes ALICE (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate) training. 
Below is a list of frequently asked questions regarding ALICE. 

Q: What is ALICE and ALICE training?

A: As part of the district’s ongoing commitment to student and staff safety, ALICE has been implemented district-wide. The goal of ALICE training is to teach strategies that will increase the chances that our staff and students survive if a terrible circumstance such as an armed intruder ever were to occur. This training encourages staff and students different options to respond based on their situation. In certain circumstances, the “lock the door and hide” strategy might be appropriate. In some cases, the teacher and students might take precautions to barricade the entrance(s) of the classroom. Under certain conditions, it might be the best decision for the teacher and students to evacuate the building.

Q: What does ALICE stand for? What does each word really mean?

A.L.I.C.E. is an acronym that stands for:

  • ALERT: Get the word out that a threat exists
  • LOCKDOWN: Secure a place to stay as much as possible as a starting point to buy time.
  • INFORM: Give constant, real-time information throughout the building using all available technology.
  • COUNTER: This is a last resort. Individuals are unable to escape. Countering may be as simple as creating a distraction to allow opportunities to escape.
  • EVACUATE: The goal is to move students out of the danger zone. It’s important to be prepared to escape.

Q: Are teachers and staff expected to follow ALICE in order? Are you supposed to Alert, then Lockdown, then inform?

A: ALICE is not intended to be a checklist of things to do. It is a list of choices, with accompanying strategies that are options for our staff to help themselves and students stay safe in the highly unlikely event of an armed intruder. Some may choose to evacuate and some may choose to lockdown and barricade. Others may be forced to counter if an armed intruder is able to enter the space they are in. ALICE trains people to know they have choices in an emergency situation.

Q: Why was ALICE training implemented?

A: We believe that all Ames CSD schools are the safest place for our students to be. Just like practicing what we should do in a fire with fire drills, we want to be sure that students and staff are prepared and know what to do if an armed intruder enters a school. All our schools are equipped with a number of safeguards, some seen and others unseen, to keep our students safe. In addition, since we know that violence has become all too frequent in our world, the strategies and mental preparation we use in ALICE are transferable to any public venue our students may find themselves in where a crisis may occur. We have to come to the realization that a violent intruder event can happen anytime, any place, and for any reason. There is a new standard-of-care which emphasizes the need for proactive, options-based, strategies, which means that we have a responsibility to those in our care and employment to do all we can to prepare them for this rare event, not only in our location but wherever they may find themselves. The federal government recommendations, as well as major law enforcement associations, support these strategies. 

Q: What does it mean to “counter”?

A: The main intent of counter is to distract the intruder, not try to physically take them on. An example of counter would be to throw objects at an intruder for a distraction. Being passive or static has typically not shown to be an effective response to most active shooter events. There are examples of recent events of school violence where the difference between passive and active responses determined survival chances. A different approach is needed to help keep our students and staff safe. Confronting a violent intruder should never be required in any non-law enforcement job description. How each staff member chooses to respond if directly confronted by a violent intruder is a personal choice.  

Q: How will parents be notified if their student’s school is experiencing a real emergency?

A: Notification will be sent out using all methods of school district communication, including a phone call from our Blackboard system, website updates, media alerts, and social media. Families are encouraged to check their information in the Infinite Campus Parent Portal to make sure their emergency contact information is up-to-date or you may not receive this important information.

Q: How will we know my student will be safe after the emergency?

A: In the event of a full evacuation, students would be transported to safe evacuation sites off of school grounds where they will be reunited with parents. Parents will be informed about these locations through direct communication.

Q: Have Ames Police, administrators, teachers, and school staff practiced scenarios and possibilities for an active shooter situation?

A: Many staff have received training and, as a District, we will continue training when needed. Many staff have practiced different scenarios and drills that imitated an active shooter situation. Staff will share what they have learned with our students in an age-appropriate way, and coach them in ALICE procedures. The Ames Police Department has been trained in the ALICE protocol and several are certified as ALICE trainers. 

Q: Since parents do not participate in safety drills they often find themselves curious about drill procedures. How do you recommend parents learn about how drills are conducted?

A: It is our recommendation that parents engage in age-appropriate conversation with their student(s) following any safety drill. Should a parent have a specific question please contact your student’s principal.

Q: Students’ readiness for this information varies based on age. How will this be communicated in age-appropriate ways?

A: We want our students to be prepared for everything, including if an unsafe person was to enter our school. Administrators, student services staff, and teachers will take the principles and tactics taught in the ALICE training and present the information in non-fearful, empowering ways. We will take into account a student’s developmental readiness to ensure they feel safe and have opportunities to talk about their feelings and reactions. 

Q: Should I talk with my student about any ALICE training in advance?

The decision to talk with your child about ALICE training in advance is advised. As with any drill (fire, evacuation, lockdown), it is important that your student knows the importance of listening to their teacher during a drill or an actual emergency. Ultimately, the decision is up to each individual parent. As a parent, you know your child best. It’s important to be calm and keep information very simple.

Q: Should I talk with my student at home after any training?

You know your student best. They may want to process what they learned or ask questions. Older students may be interested in talking about what they would do in an emergency situation. Follow your student’s lead and keep opportunities to talk openly.

Q: What if my student asks a question I don’t know how to answer it?

You can say that you’re not sure, but it’s a good question and you’ll help find an answer. School guidance counselors and your student’s teacher are good resources. 

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