In the wake of the horrific school shooting in Florida and the aftermath of copy cat threats in schools across the state and nation, I thought it paramount to ensure students and parents that safety is treated extremely seriously at OMS and in the district as a whole. In fact, in my eyes, it is my top priority as a principal. Obviously, we are in the business of student learning and preparing students for success when they leave the walls of OMS and eventually the high school. However, if students don’t feel safe, their learning and emotional well being will be compromised.
Our children are our number one cargo and they need to be treated as such. Best practice specifically related to intruders or active shooters has changed over the course of the past several years. Traditionally, OSD and the rest of the nation used a “lockdown” approach where classroom doors were locked, students were moved out of sight, and all persons would wait for an “all clear” message. These traditional methods have proven insufficient in acts involving violence.
The Oostburg School District, along with the Sheboygan Sheriff’s Department, have adopted procedures known as the A.L.I.C.E Plan. A.L.I.C.E is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. Teachers and administrators were trained in A.L.I.C.E. When a threat to school safety and security occur, implementing A.L.I.C.E strategies increases the likelihood that staff and students survive.
With A.L.I.C.E, it is important for students to know that the main premise is teacher as decision maker. Since school shootings and other acts of violence are unpredictable in terms of time, location, and means, teachers will take what they know and implement A.L.I.C.E. strategies based on the current situation. For example, this may mean barricading and locking the doors of a classroom in one situation, or evacuating the building in another situation.
Although a difficult topic to think and talk about, we do need to be prepared if it were to happen. If you have an questions about school safety and our plans for different crisis situations at OMS, don’t hesitate to contact me.
Enjoy the weekend.