YSD staff has been working with local first responders to update the emergency response protocols in our schools – specifically those that drive our response to a highly critical situation such as an intruder in our schools. In the past year, we have focused our energies on two programs that have garnered much attention throughout Maine and the United States; ALICE and I Love You Guys.
These programs encourage us to think differently about our response protocols, providing research-based suggestions that have led us to change our practice in the schools. In short, rather than following the old protocols in which an intruder in the schools would lead us to lock all classroom doors and direct students to hide quietly in the corner of the room, new protocols encourage teachers to make informed decisions that may lead to different responses based on their location in the school. While occupants of classrooms nearby the disturbance may be better off barricading the room, those further away may find it more advantageous to evacuate quickly.
Changes such as these require significant staff training, and we have engaged in that process over the past two years. In the coming days, we will begin training students, and our focus will continue to be on preparing, not traumatizing. Our drills will look very much like they have in the past, with students being trained to follow their teacher’s instructions – whether those instructions are to lock the door or evacuate the room. Families will receive notice from their child’s school prior to the first training session, with helpful information to assist in discussing the drills with students.