By Tara Cavanaugh
Columbine. Newtown. Aurora. An active shooter intruding on a public space is something no one wants to think about.
But if an incident happens, AAPS will be prepared.
The district is undergoing the Washtenaw County Sheriff’s Department’s active shooter survival training, called ALICE. It stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. The program has been endorsed by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security; it is also used in all schools in Ohio.
All Washtenaw County public schools are participating in the program. “We’re doing it county wide so that we are all trained in the same protocol and so we can help respond,” said AAPS Communications Director Liz Margolis. “In an event like this, other law enforcements will come and respond. School districts may even come and help.”
All police departments in the county are also taking part: Ann Arbor, Chelsea, Milan, Northfield, Pittsfield, Saline and Ypsilanti. Eastern Michigan University and the University of Michigan police departments are also involved.
The AAPS Crisis Team has completed the course and been schooled in training techniques. The crisis team is lead by Margolis and consists of principals, counselors, social workers and psychologists.
The team will train all members of AAPS staff in the ALICE program this year.
The ALICE program is slightly different from the current AAPS safety training. Staff has been largely trained in locking down and securing students in case of an active shooter. The new program encourages teachers to consider more options that just lockdown.
“We are training staff to think ahead of time,” Margolis said. “They need to think about: What are your options in your classroom? Do you have an exit strategy? And if your only option is lockdown, what are your options there? Can you barricade your door?”
The district has also begun discussions about locking front doors and installing security monitors at the entrance doors of school buildings.
AAPS Executive Director of Physical Properties Tim Gruszczynski will explain costs to the Board of Education at its study session tonight.
Currently all AAPS buildings are locked except for one entrance door or two entrance doors at the comprehensive high schools. “The administration is recommending that we purchase a system of front door monitoring systems, partially funded with sinking fund dollars, and that all school doors be locked during the school day,” Margolis said.
“This would be creating the safest barrier to an intruder. Because while we know these incidents are rare, we have to be prepared. We have to create a safe learning environment for our students and staff, period.”
The district will hold parent information meetings about the ALICE training. The meeting dates/locations will be announced soon.
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