Active-shooter training adds stress, safety in schools – news – the register guard – eugene, or electricity invented in homes

“We thought there was someone with a knife or a gun outside the school, and we had to flip up our desks and barricade ourselves in the corner,” Pringle said. “It ended up being a dog that was loose, but we didn’t know that at the time. I remember being really scared.”

Safety drills at public elementary, middle and high schools in Oregon and many other states now involve practicing how to respond to an armed intruder if one were to enter the school. The training has become as routine as earlier generations’ earthquake and fire drills.

As part of the active shooter training, students and school staff are no longer taught to shelter in place and hide under a desk, they instead are trained to fight back, depending on the situation. The training is called ALICE — which stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate — and is based on guidelines from an Ohio-based training company. The training is an attempt to help educators and students learn how to react to an armed intruder and move away from outdated safety procedures that for decades told teachers to lock all doors, turn off lights and hide during an emergency until law enforcement arrive.

All students and staff in the Bethel, Eugene and Springfield school districts — including cooks, custodians, secretaries and teachers — have completed the training. The Bethel district was the first of the three to implement the training. Depending on how each school approaches the training, it’s relatively cheap, about $200 for initial training.

“It may have crossed my mind a little bit because there were some random acts, but now it’s pretty much in everyone’s consciousness and it’s pervasive,” Wyman said. “I’ve seen a lot and been through a lot, and I’ve never been through a time like this.”

“My biggest worry is not that it’s going to happen at my school, but how things like this affect kids’ feeling of safety and their well-being and how that interferes with them concentrating on schoolwork and having fun and being kids,” Wyman said.

“The thought of whether there would be a shooter on campus comes up a lot more over time than it did before,” Khatter said. “Students bring it up more, they ask you what you think about it; and even if you don’t engage in a deep conversation on the topic, it’s still really mentally and emotionally striking, and those conversations stick with you.”

While some educators believe gun violence — particularly in schools — could be mitigated with stricter gun laws or further research about what prompts violent behavior, others believe that teachers should be able to take matters into their own hands should an intruder enter the school.

Cardwell said she’s considered a number of ways to add extra “layers of defense” at the charter school, including more up-to-date security systems that would require visitors to scan their driver’s license or fingerprints, allowing teachers to have guns with rubber bullets, or having visitors enter through an office with two sets of doors.

The charter school Cardwell directs is in a wing of the Lowell School District’s Lundy Elementary School, so any change in gun policy must be approved by the school board and any change would apply to both Mountain View and Lowell district teachers.

“I don’t think we have a handle on what’s prompting these sorts of behaviors and what mental illness components are playing a role,” Cardwell said, looking out the window of her office at the front of the school. “Until we can come up with a way, as a nation, to address that … we need a backup plan.”

“My friends and I used to take shotguns in our pickups to go pheasant hunting for dinner after school sometimes,” Vetter said. “Now you would be in a lot of trouble if you did that. We would never have thought to bring our guns into the school and harm anyone, life was too sacred then.”

“We know that in the past two years ALICE has worked at two schools — West Liberty Salem High School in Ohio and Forest High School in Ocala, Fla. — where shootings started to occur but were stopped early by staff and students who denied further access to victims, following their ALICE training,” he said. “That saves lives.”

“I can’t afford to think, ‘Well, it already happened here once, so what are the odds?’ ” he said. “As a school resource officer it’s always in the back of your mind, no matter what else is going on at your schools, because you know today could be the day that another shooting happens.”

“We hear about it every day, and we think about it every day, but you have to just keep going through life,” said Carrie Connelly, mother of a 14-year-old eighth-grader and a 16-year-old high school junior in the Eugene School District. “It’s almost a safety mechanism, or sort of protection that I employ to focus on the way the day is supposed to unfold and to trust in the systems and drills that schools have developed. Those are all things that allow me to drop them off in the morning without having constant debilitating fear.”

“I think I just still live in that bubble of ‘It can’t happen here,’” she said. “Yes, of course it could happen here, but you can’t assume that’s going to happen because it affects your quality of life. I might not come home on a daily basis because of a car accident, but I don’t want the kids to worry about that every single day, and I try to teach them the same thing — to keep living and enjoy life.”