ALICE Training & Response

The safety and security of our students is of the utmost importance. We strive to regularly evaluate policies and procedures to help us with this mission. Though we remain hopeful a school safety event, such as an active threat, is something we never have to face, we must do our best to prevent, prepare and train for such an event to provide the highest level of safety for our students. 

In preparation and in partnership with the Duluth Police Department and St. Louis County Sheriff's Office, the Duluth School District uses the ALICE model.  ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate and is endorsed by federal, state and local law enforcement officials.  

The previous lock down model included turning off lights, minimizing sound, and moving away from windows. ALICE provides additional strategies that can be considered. ALICE trains staff and students to make informed decisions during an active threat, remove as many people as possible from the danger zone, and provides options so those involved will have the best chance of surviving. 

ALICE is most successful when implemented in phases:

  • Phase 1: August/September 2018 – A panel of school principals, district administrators, certified staff and the district’s School Resource Officers provided implementation input. District staff participated in initial training with the Duluth Police Department and completed an online ALICE course.
  • Phase 2: September/October 2018 – School Resource Officers, school administrators, district administrators and other building and district leaders became certified as ALICE trainers. Teams of certified instructors provided additional site specific training for certified staff in October.
  • Phase 3: Remainder of the 2018-19 school year - Students prepared for and participating in new drills, designed to practice the strategies and decision making skills that are a part of ALICE.  Developmentally appropriate materials and strategies are used to prepare students at all age levels and of all abilities

School safety is a top priority, and we want to get it right.  Part of ALICE requires that as much information as possible is given when Alerting and Informing, including announcing when it is a drill and not an immediate threat. Before drills are conducted with students, we work with classes to help them understand what we are doing. It's explained that teachers have options, and any decision made will be based on the situation and the best information available. 

Families may want to visit with children in their care regarding personal safety and security. Younger students may need frequent reminders of safe practices in order for them to make good decisions related to their personal safety. 

Talking about ALICE with children

Before the training at school, should I talk about ALICE with a child in my care? 
Discussions about ALICE are the choice of the parent/guardian.  If ALICE is discussed, it is important to be calm and keep any information very simple. View the Introduction to ALICE presentation.

Should I talk with a child in my care after the training? 
Again, as a parent/guardian, this is your choice. For younger children the most important thing is to listen carefully and remember to follow their teacher’s directions whether it’s during a drill or an actual emergency. Older students may be interested in talking about what they would do in an emergency situation. Follow your child’s lead and keep the opportunities to talk open. Our schools will hold drills five times per year, along with fire and tornado drills, so questions or concerns may come up later. Students are accustomed to various drills, so a child in your care may see this discussion as something routine. 

What if a child in my care asks a question about this procedure and I don’t know how to answer?
The staff at your child’s school are able to support students who have questions. You can say that you’re not sure, but it’s a good question and you’ll help find an answer. You may encourage an older child to ask their teacher because other students may have the same question and ask them to share the answer with you. 

What if a child in my care expresses fears about safety? 
It’s important to remember that we talk about ways to stay safe so that we can be prepared if something happens. If a child in your care is worried, your teacher, principal, school counselor, or school social worker is an excellent resource. 

What can we do to help prevent a school safety event? 
If in doubt, talk to an adult to make a report - don’t spread rumors! 
Contact your Principal, Duluth Police Dept. (911) or Mobile Crisis Unit (218-623-1800)
Investigators will determine if the threat has substance and what next steps will be taken
Our schools and community partners have resources available to support children and families

What if my child is very young?
Our youngest students will be guided by their parents if they are present, and our classroom staff to the safest next steps during a drill or active threat.  It is our intention to minimize the fears and worries of your preschool children. To that end, preschoolers will not be participating in all the parts of ALICE in drills and should there ever be an active threat.  We know this kind of threat is equally scary to parents.  The biggest thing you can do is to help them understand how important it is to listen to the grown ups who will keep them safe.  Further, remember that children are listening when we least expect they are so please be careful about how you talk about ALICE.  Young children may not understand these concepts, so the delivery of information may need to be modified. 

What if a child in my care has special needs?
Students with special needs are planned for ahead of time, given their individualized situations. A student may have a Individual Safety Plan or Positive Behavior Support Plan, which would provide additional specific information on how to meet the student’s needs. If a student cannot evacuate, the safety plan would explain how to fortify their location. When students with special needs are included in the general education class, teachers need to decide what is in the child’s best interest ahead of time. We cannot give a one-size-fits-all answer to the situations involving a student with special needs. The school must consider each case individually.