School Safety- A.L.I.C.E.

History and Background

Since the 1950s, schools have participated in many different emergency response training drills. Some examples are:

  • Air raid drills
  • Fire Drills
  • Stranger Danger
  • Lockdown/Shelter in Place

Traditionally, schools across the country have used a procedure known as “lockdown,” which essentially meant locking the school building and classrooms and having students and teachers take shelter in their classroom. 

As times have changed, the protocols changed too.  In 2014, Andover’s Emergency Management working group adopted the enhanced A.L.I.C.E. procedures, offering age-appropriate options that will allow our students and teachers to be better prepared if a crisis situation occurs. It became apparent that both staff and students need options to help deal with a threat while that threat is occurring.  All Massachusetts school districts are required to adopt one of the response training programs options. Andover has selected the A.L.I.C.E. program.

What is A.L.I.C.E.?

Alert: Get the word out using clear concise language, describing the location of the event.
Lockdown:As a starting point, continue to lock down students in secure areas.
Inform:Keep staff and students informed, thereby allowing for good decision making.
Counter:Apply skills to barricade, and if necessary, distract, confuse and gain control.
Evacuate:Reduce the number of potential targets for the shooter, and reduce chances of injuries.


We believe that offering additional age-appropriate options will allow our students and teachers to be better prepared if a crisis situation occurs. Providing a constant flow of information to everyone inside the building can allow opportunities to safely evacuate the building. 

An important goal of the A.L.I.C.E. program is to evacuate to a safe place. It is also critical to note that A.L.I.C.E. is not a step by step drill, but students and staff should choose what strategy is best for their unique location and situation. 

A.L.I.C.E. in Andover Public Schools

A.L.I.C.E. training is an important part of ensuring the safety of our students, and practicing this program is critical. School safety requires collaboration that involves the entire community. Andover’s Emergency Management Group involves police, fire, public health, DPW, facilities, IT, APS, and the town manager’s office. 

A.L.I.C.E. trainings are a coordinated effort with the Andover Police Department and APS. These trainings are led by Detective Mark Higginbottom and School Resource Officer Barry DuBois from the Andover Police Department and Paul Szymanski, assistant superintendent for Finance and Administration for Andover Public Schools and the school principal. At the high school, Assistant Principal Scott Darlington takes the lead on these trainings, in collaboration with Principal Conrad. All schools’ administrators also work in cooperation with school health representatives and the Andover Fire Department. ALICE jpeg

Drills are performed at all schools and for all age levels, and trainings are tailored to be age-appropriate. A.L.I.C.E. training is typically scheduled for the start of each school year, and include both announced and unannounced drills throughout the school year at all schools. Due to the gas crisis in September, school administrators and the Andover Police Department postponed the start of these drills. Andover High School held its first announced A.L.I.C.E. drill of the school year on Thursday, November 1st. 

While the topic of safety can be uncomfortable to discuss with children, A.L.I.C.E. is designed to prepare students for emergencies, if they occur. Our elementary schools have developed a common theme for teaching younger children about drills- “Always Follow and Listen to Your Teacher!” 

For more information on A.L.I.C.E., please watch this video produced and offered by the Waltham Police and many questions can be answered on the A.L.I.C.E. website.