Somerville should consider ALICE method

by Amelia Beretsky-Jewell, '27

Somerville Public Schools conducts safety drills each year in the event of a threat of some kind to or within our schools. Current safety training involves Lockdown and Secure and Hold. Local authorities assist with these drills and there is regular communication with these agencies during the drills and in the event of a real situation. 

Lockdown: This is when there is a safety concern or threat inside the building. Movement is restricted, all doors (including classroom doors) are locked, lights are turned off, and everyone remains "silent and invisible" as much as possible. Authorities must give the all clear before the lockdown is lifted.  

Secure and Hold: This is when there may be a threat outside the building. While all exterior school doors are always locked, assigned personnel will monitor them. Normal classroom activities continue, though in some cases, there may be a request to lock classroom doors and/or restrict some movement. The principal will lift the secure and hold. 

ALICE is a different type of training that some school districts in the state/country use. It was conceived by Greg Crane and was introduced to schools in 2000. It is a method of providing procedures during an intrusion of a school to increase evacuation and survival rates during these emergencies. ALICE is an acronym that stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate. 

Alert: Students and staff in the school are notified of the danger they are subjected to, making the first step towards safety.

Lockdown: Lockdowns are practiced when evacuation is not a safe option. Barricading a room can create a more secure environment to get in contact with police and prepare other strategies.

Inform: Communicating clear information of the intruder’s location or direction to others creates opportunity to evacuate safely, prepare for counteraction, or inform police to set up a defense.

Counter: Counter is a last resort to create a distracting and confusing environment for the intruder to decrease their accuracy and chance of harming a target. It is practiced by anyone in the room with the intruder by making noise, moving, throwing objects, and varying distance. 

Evacuate: Leaving the dangerous environment is a most effective strategy to ensure safety and is the main goal during an intrusion.

About 5,500 school districts nationwide use this strategy to prioritize safety and survival for students and staff in these given schools. 

The ALICE strategy has been proven to be very effective in helping students to feel safer, providing easy solutions in the face of danger, and increasing safety within schools. 

The official website for ALICE says, “ALICE Training® can help provide that peace of mind and give participants the tools they need in dangerous situations. In fact, a recent study on the psychological impact of multi-option training shows that across 4th-12th grade, at least 88% of students reported no change or increases in feelings of safety after ALICE Training® — with life skills they can apply anywhere.”

Based on these statistics, ALICE training has been proven to create safer and more flexible strategies for survival during a school intrusion while also making students feel more secure in their schools. Due to these positive outcomes and since the worry about violence in our community is relevant and significant, the Somerville school district seems like a fitting place to instate this training method, or at least try it out to see if it can benefit people in our community.