Appleton-area schools review lockdown policies

APPLETON (AP) – Schools officials in the Appleton area are considering modifying their lockdown policies to allow teachers to evacuate students rather than have them hunker down in barricaded classrooms.

Wisconsin law mandated that all public school districts have safety plans in place by May 2013. However, as school shootings continue to occur elsewhere in the nation the process is always being re-evaluated, Post-Crescent Media reported Friday.

Most schools get locked down if an intruder enters a building. Students and teachers are instructed to lock the classroom door, turn the lights off and take cover.

But school leaders want teachers and students to know there are other options, said Ben Vogel, an assistant superintendent with the Appleton Area School District.

“Depending on the situation, the best thing might be locking down like we’ve always done,” Vogel said. “But we can’t hamstring our teachers into closing the door, locking down and not moving when it might make a lot of sense to get out of the building.”

Appleton has been getting guidance from administrators in Green Bay, some of whom attended a national conference on school safety following the deadly shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.

“We walked out of there saying, ‘Oh my gosh, we have to change the way we do things. Lockdown is not enough to keep our students and our staff safe,’” said Barbara Dorff, an executive director with the Green Bay Area Public School District.

The training focused on the ALICE Training System – an acronym for alert, lockdown, inform, counter and evacuate.

“Something that we’ve learned is that the first responders are going to get there. The police are going to get there. But the average response time is 6-7 minutes,” Dorff said. “In almost every (school shooting) case, it’s not the police who end it. Our whole purpose was to empower our staff and our students to do something different.”

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