Purely coincidentally, administrators at are reviewing a fairly new method for evacuating school children in the event a gunman enters a district school building.
Principals for all eight of Kent's schools will meet with district officials on Monday, March 6, to hear a presentation from law enforcement experts on a fairly new philosophy regarding lockdown situations. The meeting, scheduled weeks in advance, will come one week after the deadly shooting at Chardon High School that killed two students and injured three more yesterday.
Kent City Schools Superintendent Joseph Giancola said the presentation will be about ALICE, which is an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate.
"The philosophy behind ALICE is to remove as many people as possible from the danger zone to minimize targets of opportunity for a perpetrator," Giancola said. "Whereas the previous philosophy was lockdown, don’t leave, don’t go anywhere."
Like Chardon, Kent's current policy directs school teachers and staff to lock the door, turn off the lights, draw the blinds and stay in the classroom if a shooter enters the school. Students and staff typically are not evacuated until an entire building or school wing is declared safe by authorities.
Under ALICE, smaller portions of a school building may be evacuated more immediately, Giancola said.
"The ALICE philosophy might be a little more immediate and localized to different classrooms and different sections of the building," he said. "And that’s new, and that’s what we’re studying."
Giancola said ALICE would need some review from administrators and the board of education before Kent applies the new philosophy to violent situations, and that may take some time.
Right now, Kent schools conduct two comprehensive lockdown drills per year that involve the . More frequently, the individual schools hold lockdown drills to practice locking the building's doors as quickly as possible.
Today, a full contingent of guidance counselors and staff psychologists are available to Kent students who may feel the need to talk about the deadly shootings that happened just 30 miles north of Kent.
"The Chardon incident is a tragedy for all students everywhere," Giancola said. "Students in any school district feel that tragic sense of grief that the students at Chardon feel."