More safety training is on the way for Olentangy Local Schools staff, an administrator said recently.
An ALICE training refresher course for current staff and substitute teachers will be available in the future, said human resources supervisor Jennifer Iceman at the school board meeting on Feb. 11. Also on tap is a mock drill at the buildings for police and fire departments, as well as administrative staff.
“Safety is a life skill,” Iceman said. “If you see something, say something.”
ALICE stands for “Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate,” and police forces now consider it to be the best way to deal with an active shooter. If a classroom can’t be evacuated, then the room is barricaded. If needed, students and staff counter an attacker by causing distractions, not by fighting. Then when possible, they leave the danger zone.
“Sitting in the corner waiting for the bad guy to leave does not work,” said Deputy Doug Simila, who is the school resource officer for two of Olentangy’s middle schools and eight elementary schools. “How you train is how you react.”
There are five school resource officers in the district. The district’s website said the goals of the program include:
• “Promote a safe environment, positive development and personal responsibility to young people, families, teachers and school communities.
• “Provide a visible and positive image of law enforcement by serving as educators, role models and confidants for students.
The Olentangy School District, one of the largest in the state, has more than 19,000 students, 2,500 staff members, and an untold number of substitute teachers and visitors passing through its doors daily.
“We are in full uniform (and weapons),” Simila said, in response to a board member’s question. “But I’ve never had to use handcuffs on a kid.”
In addition to the ALICE training and the school resource officers, other safety enhancements for the district include: Ohio Department of Education grants for front entry improvements and multi-agency radio installation; undergoing an Armada security threat and vulnerability assessment; allowing building access to first responders; random drug searches; building door checks; yearly online classes; a staff safety committee; participation in the Navigate program and Homeland Security safety plans; and a yearly safety walk-through.
“I can’t tell you everything we’ve done,” Iceman said.
Gary Budzak may be reached at 740-413-0904 or on Twitter @GaryBudzak.