ALICE emergency training now required in elementary schools

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A program called ALICE (Alert, Lock Down, Inform , Counter and Evacuate) has been required for high school students in Alachua County for the past three years. Now, due to the state mandate, schools are required to take the program to middle and even elementary schools as well. The district says they will be simpler and age appropriate for the elementary students. All students will go through this training in their first week of school.

ALICE is a program that informs and trains students to be prepared when dealing with emergencies such as an active shooter. The training is mandated by a new Florida law passed by the Legislature following the February shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in South Florida.

“We’re teaching our students you can run outdoors," said school resource deputy PJ Mauldin. "We’re teaching our students you can jump out of windows. We’re teaching our teachers and our students how they can barricade doors. We are also teaching them if someone is trying to hurt you, if someone is trying to kill you, you’re allowed to fight back.”

The district has been working closely with a local law enforcement to prepare age-appropriate materials based on the ALICE protocol. Spokeswoman for Alachua County School District, Jackie Johnson said, "Our goal is not to scare kids. We're trying to work very hard to make sure the materials, the videos don't do that. But we want them prepared."

School officers want the parents to know that the students are not being trained to go find the shooter or threat. They are not teaching the students how to fight. They are just teaching students if someone is trying to hurt them, they are able to fight back.

“If you look back at Columbine, if you look back at Sandy Hook, if you look back at Virginia Tech, all the kids did exactly what they were taught," Mauldin said. "They sat underneath the desk. They hid in the closet and they did absolutely nothing. What happened to those student? They perished. They died.”

Teachers and other staff are training as a part of pre-planning. The Alachua County Council of PTAs is offering another opportunity for parents and other local citizens to receive ALICE training by sworn law enforcement officers.

It will be offered on Saturday, August 25 from 11 a.m. to noon. Anyone interested in attending will need to register online. There are limited seats for the seminar.

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