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ALICE Drill Run on October 5

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Thursday, October 5th during flex block, RMHS students participated in an ALICE drill, which some call a necessity while others claim it causes needless anxiety.

It is a sad reality that school shootings are a real possibility in modern America. During the 2021-2022 school year, there were 188 shootings at K-12 schools. Because of this possibility, most schools have adopted drills to prepare for the worst. Originally, lockdown drills where students either barricaded and hid or evacuated were held. However, that changed when ALICE and similar drills were introduced, as a third option was added to what students could do: attacking the threat directly.

ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate. The drill, created by a for-profit company Navigate360, is said to be an improvement over the more traditional lockdown drill. ALICE came into existence in 2000 under the name Response Options, and eventually soared in popularity because of the increasing frequency of school shootings. The controversy surrounding this drill is usually focused on the countering part of ALICE, as it is preparing students to potentially fight an armed threat.

I think it’s important that people take them seriously… It’s difficult for everybody involved, but I do think it’s a necessary thing.

— Mr. Mulligan

The controversy surrounding ALICE drills come from the fear and anxiety they may cause in students by forcing them to consider and play out a situation with an armed threat involved. Some believe it may be causing more harm than good to expose students to these situations. The other controversial part of ALICE drills is the part where students are instructed to attack intruders, which is the most criticized part of the protocol. The ALICE training website provides real-life case studies that they claim supports the effectiveness of their drills.

RMHS’s Band Director Mr. Mulligan believes that ALICE drills are sadly unavoidable.  “They are something that is necessary, unfortunately, in the world that we live in right now. I think it’s important that people take them seriously… It’s difficult for everybody involved, but I do think it’s a necessary thing.”

There is no federal or Massachusetts state mandate for ALICE drills or drills that involve countering specifically, but intruder drills in schools are recommended by government agencies like the Department of Homeland Security. Massachusetts mandates multi-hazard drills for its schools, which does include intruder drills, which involve no instruction to prepare students or teachers to attack an intruder. 

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