Lucia Mar Unified School District is adopting a new safety response protocol for critical incidents for all 18 of its school sites.
It comes as a direct response to the numerous school shootings that have occurred nationwide over the past several years.
“It’s very hard to see the images and to know that this is happening, but the fact of the matter is that it’s happening out there and it’s happening at a higher frequency than any of us would like to think,” said Andy Stenson, Lucia Mar Unified School District Assistant Superintendent of Business Services. “It’s incumbent upon us as a school district to equip our staff and our volunteers with whatever tools are necessary to see themselves to safety.”
To prepare for a worst-case scenario, the district decided to adopt the emergency operating procedure known as “ALICE.”
“ALICE stands for alert, lockdown, evaluate, inform, counter and evacuate,” said Stenson. “ALICE is a multiple-response protocol in which you train staff that there are multiple different options if they are ever facing in a crisis situation, such as an active shooter on campus.”
Lucia Mar sent out an email to parents this week informing of the new safety program and why it’s being implemented.
“We as a district have come to the realization that we need to train staff because although the odds are very, very slim that this would happen here, it absolutely could happen here,” said Stenson.
Key components include enhanced lockdown techniques, including barricading doors, basic counter measures, such as utilizing classroom items for self-defense and improved evacuation strategies.
Stenson said teachers go through three-hours of training, which uses shootings at Columbine High School and Virginia Tech as teachable examples.
“In looking at those real live scenarios, we look at decisions that people made that saved their own lives and saved the lives of students under their care and we also look at decisions that people made that put themselves in harms way or other people in harms way and we learn from those mistakes,” said Stenson.
The training has been completed at all four district high schools, Arroyo Grande, Nipomo, New Tech and Lopez.
Both Stenson and Arroyo Grande principal Dan Neff said the reaction from staff has been overwhelmingly positive.
“Our staff feels much better informed,” Neff said. “It was very informative to learn some of the newer research that is coming out to best deal with these types of situations. Hopefully we never have to deal with this situation, but it does feel better to be better prepared.”
Teachers at the four high schools will talk to students over the next two weeks about the new safety procedures.
Training at the district’s three middle schools will soon begin. Training at Judkins Middle School in Pismo Beach will take place Friday.
The district said training at all of its 18 schools will be completed by winter break.