When a classroom becomes a battleground, a textbook, trash bin or table could become an effective weapon.
Dire situations call for desperate measures, a philosophy prompting many schools to re-evaluate their emergency response plans and implement a new training program, called ALICE.
To read about which local districts have school resource officers, click here.
The ALICE program — the acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate— is a revamped perspective on how students should react if a shooter or dangerous intruder enters their school building. It requires only "common sense," not armed guards or school resource officers, according to the company's website.
Previously, districts emphasized strictly "locking down" and staying put until a threat is resolved.
The new program, however, encourages students and teachers to assess the emergency situation, barricade doors and possibly fight back using classroom objects, if it means delaying or deterring the threat and saving someone's life. It also advocates escaping to a designated shelter area if the intruder is not in a particular area of the building.
"It sounds (like) common sense, but that's because a lot of it is common sense," said Guy Parmigian, Benton-Carroll Salem Schools superintendent. "Instead of being sitting ducks, crouching in a corner, you're empowered to do something to save your life."
Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools is one of the latest local districts to adopt the ALICE program, which is steadily progressing in schools throughout Ottawa County with the assistance of local law enforcement.
The district is hosting a meeting Wednesday at Oak Harbor High School regarding the program, where officials will answer questions from community members about upcoming student and teacher training. Parmigian plans to train teachers Aug. 22 and students during the first week of school, using informative videos.
"It's really caught traction lately and we're eager to implement it as well," Parmigian said.
The Ohio School Safety Task Force, headed by Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine, endorsed the ALICE program in June. DeWine is one of the first state officials to formally support a program instructing teachers to use aggressive tactics against shooters.
The concept has its critics, however, who say the program — most specifically its "counter" practices, which encourage throwing objects at an intruder — could potentially worsen a situation by provoking a threatening person. They also question the realistic implementation.
But to Parmigian and other ALICE program supporters, it's necessary to at least consider alternatives to the "lockdown only" mentality.
"It's not 'one size fits all,' but it provides options to our students and staff," he said. "Often we like the idea of strict policies and procedures, but you can't always be trained for every situation. This is fluid, allowing you to use your own judgment in a life or death situation."
Click the PDF below to read more about ALICE policies at Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools.
Want to go?
WHAT: Benton-Carroll-Salem Schools community meeting on ALICE training
WHEN: 6:30 p.m. Wednesday
WHERE: Oak Harbor High School auditorium, 11661 Ohio 163