ALICE drills are ineffective, need to be changed


Caroline Lou

Opinion Editor Jula Utzschneider writes that ALICE drills do not adequately prepare students for high-risk situations.

Jula Utzschneider, Opinion Editor

Over the past few years, gun violence in schools has become increasingly prevalent. Since 2018, the United States has seen a total of 93 school shootings in which at least one person was injured or killed.

These malicious actions have forced our generation of students to practice active-shooter drills. Algonquin, in particular, has chosen the ALICE exercise (Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, Evacuate), designed to simulate a situation with a “real shooter.” Depending on where the “shooter” is announced to be in the school, teachers can decide whether they want to barricade their doors or evacuate to a safe zone outside. Although this idea seems beneficial in theory, it has several flaws. 

While fire drills are relatively low-stress procedures, active shooter drills incite higher levels of fear because they are much more realistic. These drills can be traumatizing to students, especially those who have already undergone traumatic experiences earlier in life. Furthermore, some ALICE drills include a description of the threat in the announcement initially given to students. During one that took place my freshman year (2019-2020), for example, a police officer actually dressed up in said description, was located in the announced hallway and went into classrooms yelling at students as if he was a real threat. Was that really necessary to prepare students for an active shooter situation?

On the other hand, the ALICE drill that took place in December was simply a planned lockdown—how does this truly help students prepare for the worst? Families received three emails prior to the drill, informing them of the date it would occur (Dec. 10), what they would need to do (barricade) and a general list of instructions. While I understand that students need some warning, they might as well have been led step-by-step through the exercise. In a real situation, there wouldn’t be any preparation or additional time.

Not to mention, with the school’s change in PA system this year, the speakers in many of the classrooms and hallways are barely audible. I myself remember being in the H200 hallway during the accidental announcement through the automated phone system that initiated a lockdown. However, along with many others, I did not know this at the time, as I had not heard the loudspeaker. Had that been a real threat to the school, I would’ve had no idea. To me, this is absolutely terrifying and frankly unacceptable. 

There are several things administrators can do to fix these issues. Firstly, we should not be told when these drills will take place. It completely defeats the purpose if students and staff know when they will occur, as we will be able to prepare. In a real situation, we wouldn’t have that luxury. Secondly, there should not be an actual “threat” present. It is unnecessary and honestly quite scary to see this in the hallway, no matter how fake they may be. While this was not present at our last drill, Algonquin has done this in the past (and should not do it again). Thirdly, the administration absolutely needs to fix the PA system. These shootings are often unpredictable, and I would hate to see students unaware of a threat simply because they couldn’t hear the announcement. 

This poll has ended.

Do you think ALICE drills have been effective?


Sorry, there was an error loading this poll.

Basically, Algonquin needs to find a middle ground. The drills should not cause trauma among the student body, but at the same time must prepare us for the real situation. We should be practicing them often to be ready for the worst, no matter how unlikely it may seem.