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Schools load up on gun safety

Schools load up on gun safety

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Two schools in the Lake Geneva area are stepping up efforts to keep students and staff safe from gun violence.

Brookwood Elementary and Middle schools in Genoa City have completed ALICE training, and Woods Elementary School in the town of Geneva is preparing to introduce ALICE on campus.

ALICE is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. It is a training program designed to help schools prepare for the threat of gun violence on campus, and respond if it happens.

It is a break from a traditional “lockdown only” approach, in which classrooms are locked and students and staff are directed to remain hidden from gunmen.

Genoa City Police Chief Joseph Balog said ALICE training gives teachers and other school staff a broader range of options if a gun-wielding intruder turns up at school.

“We are not trying to teach kids how to fight a bad guy with a gun,” Balog said. “We are trying to teach kids the best ways to counteract a person with a gun to increase your ability to survive.”

Genoa City police recently completed a two-year process with Brookwood school administrators of implementing the new safety protocols.

As part of the program, both schools have made physical changes on campus, including new security cameras, new hardware on doors, window markers and interior window privacy blinds.

The schools also have purchased BleedStop first-aid kits for all classrooms and main areas.

Brookwood Elementary Principal Luke Braden said the improved network of cameras is intended to help both schools monitor people entering the buildings.

“It is strategically there, so we can keep our students safe,” Braden said.

At Woods Elementary School, teachers and staff are embarking on ALICE training starting Nov. 1.

Woods School Superintendent Alyson Eisch said she welcomes the opportunity to improve safety on campus against gun violence.

ALICE, she said, educates students and staff on the possibilities for either getting themselves out of a building where a gunmen has entered, or to barricade themselves against an active shooter to keep him or her out of a building or classroom.

“For example, if I announce there is an intruder by the office, I want kids on the other end of the school to have a plan on getting out a different door,” she said.

Woods has added new secure doors in the building, as well as extra locks and bulletproof film on windows.

For the Brookwood schools, the two-year training process included four hours of training for teachers, with more instruction online.

“The first step was training the staff at what ALICE is, so that they are more knowledgeable and have some safety drills,” Braden said. “We wanted to incorporate drills and skills into our professional development.”

The safety improvements have been presented to students in the past couple of weeks, as police and school officials met with children from grades kindergarten through the middle school.

Officials said the program introduces children to lifelong skills that will keep them safe from gun violence for years to come.

“Some of the stuff that you do when you are a kindergardener and in eighth grade are going to make more sense,” Balog said. “And your roles in an emergency situation are going to increase the older you get.”

The police chief said the program also builds healthy relationships between the police and the school children.

“The nice thing about this is you are not coming into the school because someone did something bad,” he said. “It gets the faculty as well as the students to see you working with the faculty to show that the school cares about student safety.”

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