Code Red / Active Shooter -- what is the best course of action?

Discussion in 'General Education' started by ms.irene, Mar 5, 2018.

  1. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I do NOT want this thread to devolve into a political debate over gun control/mental health care/how to stop school shootings. I do want to know what your school leadership has taught you is the currently accepted "best practice" in the event of an active shooter on campus. We have two Code Red drills coming up on my site, and our admin has given us little to no practical advice on what is best to do if this were to actually happen.

    I know to get as many kids indoors as fast as possible, lock the door, lower the blinds, and wait for the "all clear." But there are so many variables and we haven't gotten any good answers to these kinds of questions.

    For example...
    How long do you wait before locking the door?

    What do you do if a panicked kid is knocking at the door after you've locked it?

    Do you make them take off backpacks? Coats? Is it worth taking the time to make them take anything off that could potentially contain a weapon?

    Do desks and tables stop bullets? What about textbooks? Should we be doing "duck and cover" like for an earthquake? Or is it more important just to be hidden somehow?

    What about rooms with a connecting door that can't be locked? Or full-length windows? I have both of these in my room.

    What can we actually do to best protect our kids if it comes to that?
     
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  3. Been There

    Been There Habitué

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    Although everyone is anxious to know what the most effective response to an active shooter would be, I think it's premature to expect any definitive answers. The resulting plethora of ideas submitted here will simply complicate matters. I suggest waiting for law enforcement officials to issue their advice to school districts. As we all know, school leadership is notorious for not knowing how to effectively resolve serious issues. (I know there are always exceptions, but this is a generalization.)
     
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  4. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    In the event of a hard lockdown, we are supposed to lock the door and get the students out of view from any windows or doors. Students are supposed to hide under desks; I don't have any desks in my room, so students sit on the floor in a far corner. We remain in that position until someone official comes to the room and releases us or an all-clear is given by a site administrator via the intercom. We aren't supposed to leave for any other reason, not even the fire alarm.

    As for your other questions...

    How long do you wait before locking the door? We lock it immediately. My doors have crash bars, which are easy to lock quickly. My old classroom had the lock on the outside of the door, which I always found troublesome because it would mean that I would have to open the door and step halfway into the hall to lock it.

    What do you do if a panicked kid is knocking at the door after you've locked it? We aren't supposed to let anyone in, even students. If a kid was at my door as I was locking it, I'd pull them in. If they came to the door after I had already locked it and moved out of view, I wouldn't approach the door to even see who it was. We have personnel on campus who sweep the halls and bathrooms for stray students, so someone will bring them to a safe place.

    Do you make them take off backpacks? Coats? Is it worth taking the time to make them take anything off that could potentially contain a weapon? We don't allow backpacks in the classrooms. I hadn't even considered searching students for weapons during a lockdown; I don't think I would do that.

    Do desks and tables stop bullets? What about textbooks? Should we be doing "duck and cover" like for an earthquake? Or is it more important just to be hidden somehow? Obviously they don't stop bullets, but I don't think that's the point. I think the point is just for students to be hidden, based on the belief that most of these shooters are opportunistic and will take the easy shots. My district's official policy is basically to duck and cover, away from the windows, with lights of and doors locked. Other districts use ALICE training, and I wouldn't be opposed to that. At the same time, I'm not a SWAT officer or anything like that, and I think that the physical intervention should be left to the professionals.

    What about rooms with a connecting door that can't be locked? Or full-length windows? I have both of these in my room. This is definitely problematic. I have large, oddly-shaped windows that can't be easily covered. I also have an adjacent room with a door I don't have keys for. I've asked for keys and been told no (because that particular door requires a master key). I've been assured that admin will come around and lock that door and others (computer labs, etc.) which require a master key. I guess I just have to trust them to do that, and I do, it's just...I mean it could be a matter of life and death, you know? I wish there were a better solution.

    What can we actually do to best protect our kids if it comes to that? I've thought a lot about this. I have an exterior door, and I've decided that in the event of a real, actual thing and as long as that exit isn't dangerous, I'll take my kids to the neighborhood across the street. I can take my chances that someone will be home and let us hide in their garage or backyard. If that's not what I'm "supposed" to do per official policy, I am willing to take the heat for that. I'd like to say that I'd be willing to physically do what it takes to stop someone, but the truth is that I don't know what I would do in that situation. I have a family of my own to get home to, and I feel like my primary obligation is to make sure that happens. I also know that my students have a better chance if I'm there with them, so I wouldn't want to leave them without a safe adult taking care of them. This is such a difficult scenario to consider. I really don't know.

    A few years ago my school had a very long lockdown that lasted well into the evening. The danger was real, but it wasn't immediate--the police locked us down while they were searching for some pretty bad guys nearby. At the time I felt more inconvenienced than scared, but I'm not sure I'd have that same reaction if the same thing happened again today.

    Somewhat related, did you see the story today that one of the Florida teachers who had been hailed as a hero is now being called a coward by many students? They claim that he refused to let them back into the classroom once they saw the danger in the hallways. Some of the students were stuck unprotected in the hallway for most of the event. The teacher said that he did what he was supposed to do--lock the doors and not let anyone in.
     
  5. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    We follow the ALICE procedures.
    (which, in its nature, attends to the fact that there are so many variables)
     
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  6. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I haven't had any ALICE training -- in fact, the only place I've ever heard of it is on here. Can you share any of the tips?
     
  7. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    This is exactly what I am trying to get some clarity on...If the alert goes out while kids are out on campus, and I pull in as many as I can, but a straggler shows up once I've locked the door...do I protect the kids inside by keeping it locked, or take a chance and let one more in?
     
  8. mrsammieb

    mrsammieb Devotee

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    I didn't read everyone's responses but here are my thoughts:
    1. If you are outside, do not go inside. At our school we have a place that we are suppose to take students (we live right next to a neighborhood, so we are suppose to take kids there. If it is a drill we take them to the edge of the school property.
    2. If you are inside, I keep my door locked and I have a little curtain I keep pulled to see through the window. If it is a drill I just pull the curtain closed.
    3. We were told not to open the door if a kid was knocking. But in my heart, if it were true, I know I would open it.
    4. We were told not to worry about the windows. In most cases a shooter is in the building and isn't outside the building.
    5. Practice. We practiced even when there wasn't a drill.
     
  9. Backroads

    Backroads Aficionado

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    We just barely talked about this!

    We don't have a particular order, but it boils down to run, hide, or confront as the situation calls. We have drills planned for the future.

    We do get as many kids into a classroom (if seems to be best choice at the time) and do lock and barricade doors.

    If outside, we have several go-to places.
     
  10. Caesar753

    Caesar753 Multitudinous

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    I think that might have to be a question you answer for yourself in the moment. The only "better" answer is referring to your school's policy, which is almost certainly not to open the door for anyone. I wish there were a better answer even than that.
     
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  11. bella84

    bella84 Aficionado

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    Our school district had active shooter training earlier this year. The cops who ran the training told us that the three natural responses are fight, flight, or freeze. School policy for lockdowns is to lock the door immediately. Pull in any students or staff if they are right outside your doorway, but otherwise, lock it right away. Then, per the cops, we are to either barricade our door and hide or flee through a window or exterior door (assuming it seems safe and we have that option). Going back to the door and letting someone in when we hear a knock isn't an option. We were also taught that the lock is a false sense of security: "Anyone who wants in a room badly enough is getting in. A lock isn't going to stop them," according to the cop. If the shooter does manage to get into the room and we are still there, we were told to either run away in a zigzag path or to throw things at them - anything, like a stapler, books, etc. The bottom line is that a policy is meaningless in a real situation. We can all practice the way we are told, but, in an actual active shooter situation, instinct will kick in. We can only hope that we've had enough training (and luck) to save ourselves and those around us.
     
    Last edited: Mar 5, 2018
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  12. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    The problem is that, as of now, my school doesn't have a policy. Our AP literally said "just go with your gut." OK...I know there is no way to know in the moment, but since there are people being dragged through the mud right now for having to make those decisions...I would appreciate at least some level of guidance from my admin.
     
  13. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    #1 and 4 only apply to closed-building campuses. My campus is completely open-air -- my room opens up to a huge open quad area on one side, and is backed by an empty field. I am 100% exposed. The wall facing the quad is completely lined with full-length windows.

    It almost sounds as if a better strategy than getting kids to shelter in my room would be to lead them to run away, across the empty field, towards the homes in the neighborhood.
     
  14. JimG

    JimG Comrade

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    When you close and lock the door, you should also cover the window. In that case, you would have no idea who is knocking at the door anyway.

    Tell the kid to run away and not stop until he is safely off and away from campus. You have no idea where the assailant is. Un-securing your door puts the lives of everyone in your room at risk.
     
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  15. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    ALICE ==>
    Alert -- Alerting others to the fact that there is someone that might be dangerous
    Lockdown -- To the extent possible, lock doors & close blinds
    Inform -- Continue to share information (via walkie talkies that we have) about where they might be or what is happening so that all are aware, no matter the location
    Counter -- If the "dangerous someone" is nearby, preparing to counter them by having something that can be thrown at them
    Evacuate -- If they are not nearby, or it seems the wiser choice, leaving the classroom and heading immediately away from campus in whatever direction is best for that particular situation (for our elementary kids, we identified a few key locations that would be good directions to head...of course, the idea being just to run to get as far away as possible)

    Essentially, the idea being that you should only stay and prepare to counter if evacuating seems to be an unsafe choice. For example, if your door opens towards the gym, and that's where the person is, it might be better to stay in, lockdown, and prepare to counter. On the other hand, if you're on the opposite side of the building, it's best to evacuate in the opposite direction.
     
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  16. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    The principles behind ALICE are to do whatever you can to save as many children as possible, recognizing that in the worst case, you're not going to save all of them. The process is outlined in the acronym. The focus is less on hiding and more on securing your location or getting to a secure location. The C in ALICE is for the worst-case scenario when the assailant is in your classroom. The teacher and students are instructed to attempt to assault the attacker with projectile objects. One suggested counter-attack is to use the fire extinguisher spray to blind the attacker and then bludgeon with the canister if necessary. The E is good sense. If the attacker is not known to be near your location, move your students away before the attacker heads your way.
     
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  17. geoteacher

    geoteacher Devotee

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    We use ALICE also. In fact, we just recently did a review. We practiced securing the room and evacuating to a secure location. I will do say that I have personally thought about how best to evacuate and have discussed it with my students.
     
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  18. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Our district uses a modified form of ALICE. There are 5 gallon buckets of tennis balls in all the classrooms for the "C" part. In theory, every single student pelting the intruder with tennis balls will disorient them or something?
     
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  19. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    Wow...or is the idea they will trip over the tennis balls, à la Looney Toons?
    So many interesting and helpful ideas -- I have no idea why my district hasn't looked into ALICE training. All we have as a "plan" is lock the doors and get down below the window line.
     
  20. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    It sounds like given the layout of our campus, we should be thinking about evacuation as a safer option.
     
  21. ms.irene

    ms.irene Connoisseur

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    I just made a cover for my window on my prep yesterday.
     
  22. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    Nobody is really sure of the purpose of the tennis balls, other than a "tool" because if the intruder breaks the door or what not, the students & teachers are supposed to "fight with what ya got", so throwing desks or what not is also something instructed. The tennis balls sit loomingly year after year never touched, except when a smart aleck wants to act like a jerk, lol.
     
  23. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I will say this, I'm pretty sure policy is going to go out the window in a real situation, I know my priority will be keeping myself and my kids safe.
     
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  24. mathmagic

    mathmagic Enthusiast

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    It would depend on the situation. If the dangerous person was right next to a classroom, that classroom would stay in, while many others may evacuate. Though I may have misinterpreted your response: you might've been meaning just the consideration of evacuation instead of all locking down - and I'd definitely agree with that!
     
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  25. viola_x_wittrockiana

    viola_x_wittrockiana Comrade

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    One more suggestion that might help some people - if you have a second- or third-floor classroom with windows, consider getting a fire ladder. I don't know why one wouldn't be kosher with a district and it opens up another evacuation option in case of shooter or fire. If you're not familiar with them, they hook onto the windowsill, collapse/fold down to about the size of a boot box, and run about $30-$40.
     
  26. dgpiaffeteach

    dgpiaffeteach Aficionado

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    We also do ALICE. I would always, always try to evacuate my students first if I thought it was safe. I would much rather us be out running away from the school than trapped in our room like sitting ducks. If that's not an option, we barricade the door as best we can and prepare to throw as many things as we're able to.
     
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  27. RussianBlueMommy

    RussianBlueMommy Comrade

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    I guess that is where our 5 gallon buckets of tennis balls come into play..?
     
  28. kt_bug

    kt_bug Rookie

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    Not specific answers to your questions, but general tips from my dad, a 20-year police officer and current School Resource Officer:

    In a real active-shooter situation, if you can get students off campus, running should always be the first option.

    The most secure classrooms are the ones that can't be breached even if the person trying to get in has a key. There are a number of ways to accomplish this. You can buy a locking mechanism that fits over the door hinge or under the door online. You can use a belt, bungee cord, or length of rope or chain around the door hinge to keep it from opening. You can install a chain lock or something similar on the inside of the door that can be latched in an emergency (admin might not be thrilled but safety). Do not open the door for anyone unless they give the predesignated password - every school should have a system like this so that teachers know that it is okay to open the door for the police after the situation ends.

    One of the smartest things he's seen was a teacher who made a sign saying "On a field trip" or "At the library" or something else saying that they weren't in class. The teacher stuck it on the door before shutting and locking it (also while checking for students in the halls).

    All windows should have covers. Make or buy some if yours don't. Purchase or create a locking mechanism for interior doors that don't lock - something physical that prevents the door from opening.

    Doors (most), walls, desks, tables, books, etc. won't stop a round from an AR-15. The best thing for students to do is hide.

    If it comes to defend, you and your students should do everything you can in that moment to create chaos. Throw things, yell, attack the shooter, etc. Nothing wrong with keeping a really heavy object (decorative or not) that is not a weapon but could be used as one in the classroom. Honestly, if the shooter gets into the classroom, most or all of the people in there are probably going to be shot anyways. Creating chaos can buy time for some people to escape or for the police to arrive on scene and locate the shooter.

    Lastly, some school district policies say to take cell phones from the students in the event of an active shooter situation (the district where I did my student teaching has this policy). My dad recommends that you not do this. The more information getting to the outside, the better. It doesn't matter who the information comes from and secondary students (especially high school) are more than capable of providing that information.
     
  29. Ima Teacher

    Ima Teacher Virtuoso

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    How long do you wait before locking the door?
    Our doors are always locked and closed. Only teachers open the doors.

    What do you do if a panicked kid is knocking at the door after you've locked it?
    We don't open it. We don't even approach it. Students are taught to find the nearest open door and hide.

    Do you make them take off backpacks? Coats? Is it worth taking the time to make them take anything off that could potentially contain a weapon?
    Backpacks and jackets are always in lockers unless it is when students are entering or exiting the building.

    Do desks and tables stop bullets? What about textbooks? Should we be doing "duck and cover" like for an earthquake? Or is it more important just to be hidden somehow?
    We do "run, hide, fight" method. We practice the "hide" method, but we talk about when to know if it is better to run. We also discuss the "fight" option with the older kids.

    What about rooms with a connecting door that can't be locked? Or full-length windows? I have both of these in my room.
    We don't have that in our building, except in the cafeteria. They did put in mirrored tint so people can't see in from outside.

    What can we actually do to best protect our kids if it comes to that?
    We did an active shooter drill with the state police. It was informative and terrifying. The noise of the shots and people storming into the room really rattles you. I don't know what the answer is otherwise.
     
  30. Sam Aye M

    Sam Aye M Mr. Know-It-All

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    The purpose of tennis balls, (or anything, really, that can be thrown) is to disorient/distract the shooter. It is EXTREMELY hard to concentrate/shoot when things are being thrown at your face. Your automatic reaction is to flinch away from the object coming at you. The key is to throw it at their faces or upper bodies (their eyes, if you can be that accurate). It's not going to stop the shooting, but will buy time for people to escape. While tennis balls will work, if they are all in a bucket in the corner of the room when a shooter comes in, they will likely be of little use. At this point, throw anything you can, cell phones, books, pencils, your shoes, chairs, whatever you can to buy yourselves time to try to escape.In real-life role-plays, people were actually able to escape through the door behind the shooter while he was trying to duck/react to the thrown objects.

    In ALICE training scenarios, we have had actual police officers serve as the "shooter" in role plays. These cops entered the room with the participants only throwing foam balls at them. Even with only foam balls being used, the number of people the officer(s) were able to shoot was reduced dramatically. The officer stated it was just really difficult to concentrate on anyone when everything was being thrown at their face.
     
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  31. rafay

    rafay New Member

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    We all should follow the Government Rules Because these are for Peace not for war
     

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