ALICE program arms children with cans & books to fight off classroom intruders

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Photo: MGN Online

Photo: MGN Online

VALLEY, Ala. – You’ve likely heard of students bringing canned food to school for food drives, but have you ever heard of bringing a canned food item to school for safety?

A letter sent to parents of students at one school in Chambers County requested just that — students were asked to arm themselves with an eight ounce canned food item.

Though it sounds odd, administrators believe the practice could catch potential intruders off guard, possibly even knocking him or her out until police arrive.

In the letter to parents, W.F. Burns Middle School Principal Priscilla Holley said, “As a result of school shootings throughout the United States and discussing with law enforcement on the best procedure to follow to keep our students safe, we are enhancing our procedure for intruders.”

The idea to arm students with something like a can or a book comes from ALICE training. The ALICE acronym stands for: Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate.

“I can honestly say that the major point of the the training… is to be able to get kids evacuated and not be sitting ducks hiding under desks,” Superintendent of Chambers County Schools Dr. Kelli Hodge said.

Hodge said school systems in 30 states teach the principles of ALICE to students.  Auburn University also uses ALICE on its campus.

The ALICE program falls in line with new guidelines for school safety issued by the Department of Education in 2013.

“Understandably, this is a sensitive topic. There is no single answer for what to do, but a survival mindset can increase the odds of surviving,” the Department of Education said. “There are three basic options: run, hide, or fight. You can run away from the shooter, seek a secure place where you can hide and/or deny the shooter access, or incapacitate the shooter to survive and protect others from harm.”

Feedback on the Chambers County Schools program has been somewhat mixed since the letter went home to parents. Hodge said the majority of negative responses have come via Facebook, and often times by people who don’t have children in Chambers County Schools. When WHNT News 19 contacted Hodge, she said her office had received two phone calls and one email about the ALICE program.

In the letter, Principal Holley said students who are armed with a canned food item will have a sense of empowerment to protect themselves in the event an intruder enters their classroom.

For more information about the ALICE program, click here.

Read the letter sent home to W.F. Burns Middle School parents here:

Letter