BHS Insight

Better to Be Safe Than Sorry

Stephanie Stiles, Staff Writer

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After the high school shooting in Parkland Florida that left 17 dead, the whole country held its breath in expectation of change or repetition. The shots in Florida were certainly heard here in Barnstable, encouraging immediate updates to its security, which included the new ALICE and RAPTOR systems.

Barnstable Public Schools Superintendent Meg Mayo Brown was a leading advocate of introducing new security measures in Barnstable schools.

“There are four main aspects of school security: prevention, preparation, responding, and recovering,” said Brown.

Barnstable schools have greatly increased the attention given to each aspect.
To address “prevention,” Barnstable has adopted a new identification system, known as Raptor, for all visitors entering school buildings. With this system, all guests must report immediately to the main office and present a form of identification.
If the visitor is visiting for the first time, her or his information will be “run through the national registry of sex offenders,” said Brown, “and once the guest’s background is cleared [she or he] will be added to the school database therefore [she or he] won’t have to go through the process again.”

A picture of the visitors’ form of ID will be printed onto an identification sticker, which they must wear throughout the entire duration of their visit to a Barnstable public school.

The response system to a school intruder, ALICE, best addresses how schools will “prepare” and “respond” in the case of a breach in school security.

BHS Principal Patrick Clark explained that ALICE is a “multi-option response to a school intruder or a school safety incident.”

“We are used to a single response of lockdown, which is only one of the possibilities with ALICE,” said Clark.

ALICE gives teachers the ability to make the decision about whether the class should lockdown or evacuate, according to Clark.

“If we had a school security issue in the field house, instead of locking down the whole school, maybe Mr. Schroeder in the 1100s could evacuate his classroom from the high school. He would have the flexibility to make some decisions as the adult in charge,” said Clark.

“ALICE stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuation,” said Brown.

“Alert” refers to the process of noticing an intruder or active shooter quickly, then warning others so that as many people as possible can get to safety, according to Brown.

“Lockdown” is what many Barnstable students are familiar with, and it means to get all students and faculty away from the danger by locking all classrooms and barricading the doors.

“Inform” deals with the school broadcasting clear and precise descriptions of the situation to the whole school so that teachers can then gage how they should act, either with evacuation or lockdown, with preparations to attack.

“Counter” involves the circumstance that a school intruder does enter a classroom and students and faculty attack or distract the danger.

“It is statistically proven that attacking the intruder, either by throwing books or maybe swarming the intruder, is more effective than being sitting ducks, and gives more people an opportunity to evacuate and escape,” said Brown.

“Evacuation” is, as mentioned, the act of getting as many people as possible out of the building and away from the danger.

Over the summer teachers had to complete a course online and watch a powerpoint about ALICE protocol, according to wood shop teacher Charles Egan. Additionally teachers attended a meeting on Oct. 10 with school resource officer Dennis Stamfl as a follow up. Teachers and staff will receive additional training in early November.
“Now in the case of an emergency we have to make a decision, which can be hard because people get nervous,” said Egan. “It is really just a change in philosophy, of which we have to adjust to.”

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