Crisis and Lockdown Procedure
In 2017, ISD 728 began implementing a more proactive approach to responding to threats of school violence such as active shooter situations and other imminent threats to safety that require schools to lockdown. District and school administrators, along with all staff, are being educated in ALICE response, a less passive response to a crisis situation that gives staff and responders more options based on the circumstances of the incident.
The ALICE acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Our community law enforcement partners have been actively involved in training staff districtwide and are assisting with practice lockdown drills using the ALICE concepts. These response protocols are being introduced to students gradually and at a developmentally appropriate level as schools practice the five lockdown drills required by state law.
The threat of an active shooter situation in our schools is rare but real. Empowering our staff with proactive response strategies, rather than a passive, one-size fits all approach is a positive change to our district’s emergency response and crisis management plans and protocols. Ultimately we hope we never have to utilize these plans, but in the event we do, please be assured that staff are well prepared to act in the best interests of safety for all.
If you have questions, please feel free to contact your student’s building principal or Rachel Hilyar, Director of Prevention, Safety and Grants at 763-241-3400 x5003.
How to Talk to Your Kids about School Lockdown Drills without Scaring Them
As unfortunate as it might be, lockdown drills have become a normal occurrence at most public schools across the country, in some places as commonplace now as fire drills. And though they can be scary for young children, they’re necessary. It’s not easy to explain to your child why lockdown drills are necessary or what exactly they’re protecting them against without inciting fear. But there are some strategies available for speaking to your children about the importance and purpose of lockdown drills.
Here are just a few:
1. Stay Calm
Children often react first to an adult’s reaction, then to whatever situation is causing the reaction. For example, if your child falls and scrapes their knee. Their initial reaction might be to cry when they see the blood or because it hurts. But the severity of their reaction will have a lot to do with how you, as the parent, react. If you start panicking, your child will panic too because they’ll think there’s reason to: “If mommy is getting upset there must be something really wrong!” This theory holds true for discussing lockdown drills. If you approach the subject with a calm and even tone, your child will not be initially alarmed. They’re more apt to calmly sit and listen to what you have to say.
2. Be Open to Questions
You want your child to feel comfortable asking you questions, about anything in life, but especially about something they’re concerned or curious about. Try not to meet their questions with resistance or negativity. Be open to whatever is going on in their minds. The more knowledge and understanding of the situation they have, the more comfortable they may become with the practice.
3. Use Comparisons
It’s sometimes easier for children to understand a new concept when they have a familiar reference to compare it too. The most common and logical comparison to a lockdown drill is a fire drill. Most children are familiar with fire drills before they even enter public school. Many daycare and childcare centers are required to perform routine fire drills. You might even have a fire plan in place for your home. Explain to your child that a lockdown drill is very similar to a fire drill. It’s something the schools use just in case of an emergency and for practice because practice makes perfect! You can even compare practicing drills to wearing a helmet or seat belt. You do these things to be safe, just in case there’s an accident or your child falls off their bike. These things may never happen, but if they do, you’re protected. The more relaxed and less serious you remain while discussing lockdown drills, the more relaxed your child will be. Emphasize that lockdown drills aren’t just for the students but for teachers as well and that they’re designed to keep everyone safe.
4. Helping Them Understand the Threat
But as we know, lockdown drills are in place for a very serious reason. It’s perfectly fine to ease your young child’s mind by making “light” of the situation and explaining that it’s simply for practice. But your inquisitive child will likely ask what a lockdown drill is keeping them safe from. They already view teachers and other adults as authority figures. Explain to your child that sometimes, adults and teachers see a potential threat or something unsafe that children don’t see. This threat may be nothing, but until the adults can determine that, a lockdown drill is a good way to keep them safe. Your child’s next question might be, “Well, what kind of unsafe stuff?”
My son is 7 and I try to be as honest with him as possible, without striking fear. He knows that people make poor choices at times—from his friends in class to adults. When discussing what threats lockdown drills are addressing, explain that it’s the school’s job to keep the children safe from any adults around that might be making poor choices. There’s really no need to explain further what those choices are. I often tell my son, “Sometimes people just do things that we don’t understand. Things that we would never do.” If your child is a little bit older you can go as far as to say, “Sometimes people get angry and confused and end up hurting people.” You know your child best, so offer as much or as little explanation as you think is appropriate or necessary.
5. Encourage Your Child to Be a Helper
Most kids love nothing more than being a helper, especially to adults! Making children part of what’s going on is a great way to involve them in their own safety practice, such as lockdown drills. Try asking your child about the lockdown drill process. “So, what do you do first?” or “What happens next?” Become excited and involved in what’s happening. Your child will feel important and may view the drill as a necessary “job” they have, not as a scary experience.
6. Always be Available
It’s important to always be available for your child to ask questions, voice their concerns and simply listen to what they have to say. The first few lockdown drills your child experiences might be scary for them, but over time, they should become more comfortable with the process. If you need further information or help explaining lockdown drills with your child, speaking to your school’s principal or counselor.
BONUS CONTENT! If you are interested in knowing more, ALICE provides a 20 minute module designed for caretakers to learn about ALICE, how their child's school is implementing ALICE, and resources for how they can talk to their children about ALICE. To access this module, email Nicole.Stottlemyre@ISD728.org.
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