Education, News

Swampscott schools to adopt new active-shooter drill program

SWAMPSCOTT — Over the next few years, the school district will roll out I Love U Guys — a new emergency-response training program focused on creating an effective, action-based response to an active-shooter scenario.

I Love U Guys was named after the final text message high-school student Emily Keyes sent to her parents before she was shot and killed by a gunman during the 2006 Canyon High School shooting in Bailey, Colo. The training walks teachers and students through holding down their classrooms, locking themselves in with the lights off, evacuating the building, and finding shelter.

Superintendent of Schools Pamela Angelakis said the training will replace the district’s current ALICE Active Shooter Response training, in which students are taught to lock down their classrooms, barricade the doors, hide, fight to disorient the intruder, and evacuate.

ALICE, which is an acronym for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter, and Evacuate, training often features banging on doors as part of entry and barricading drills. Angelakis said I Love U Guys will be a more sensitive approach to emergency-response training.

“It’s known to be a gentler version of ALICE because they use a different language,” Angelakis said. “They don’t believe in barricades, they still do the evacuation.”

School Committee member Amy O’Connor expressed support for I Love U Guys. She said she had received calls from parents concerned about ALICE drills, and looks forward to a new, less “traumatic” program.

Angelakis said she learned about the training protocol from Student Resource Officer Brian Wilson at a retreat she held with the district’s leadership this summer. She said she sent seven schools to an I Love U Guys training seminar at Reading Memorial High School over the summer and plans to slowly begin implementing the training at the Blaney School this year.

“We’re excited to roll it out. But this year, we’re only rolling out the common language and the drills, there’s a whole reunification piece to this, as we saw at St. John’s Prep in the spring,” Angelakis said.

Teachers will be introduced to the new program on Monday, Angelakis said. She added that later in fall, Wilson will hold a public event explaining the training to parents.

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