Police lead children from the Sandy Hook Elementary School after a shooting there. (AP Photo/Newtown Bee, Shannon Hicks)

Today, following the elementary school shooting that left 27 students and teachers dead in Connecticut, we reached out to Richardson ISD for information regarding safety policies in our own district.

Spokeswoman Candace Ahifinger remarks first that RISD extends its sympathy to everyone impacted by the tragedy in Newtown, Connecticut.

Here is what she had to say about the procedures in our neighborhood schools:

Richardson ISD has been proactive in taking security measures to ensure the safety of our staff and students.

RISD campuses have locking external doors that require proximity cards to open them. In addition, the front doors have an intercom system so office personnel can talk to visitors and then buzz them into the office if appropriate. From the office there is another RFID-controlled door that leads to the rest of the campus.

RISD has developed a detailed crisis management plan and each campus has its own specific plan. In addition to the monthly fire drills, campuses have drills each semester to train for lockdown, evacuation, shelter in place, and tornadoes. This training allows staff and students to act quickly in the event that an actual situation occurs. In addition, campus and district administrators are trained to manage and respond to situations through the National Incident Management System.

Safety audits are performed on every RISD campus on a three-year interval. During these audits, members of the District Crisis Management Team review the building and safety procedures to identify best practices and areas of concern.

RISD counselors and teachers are trained to identify students that may need individual help in dealing with situations that occur. Upon identification, counselors work closely with students to help them deal with their concerns.

Alternative training for students: a good idea or not?

Recently, but months before today’s tragedy, I listened to this report on NPR about a controversial program geared to teach kids to stand up for themselves in the event of a school shooting.

Proponents of the A.L.i.C.E. training plan, which stands for alert, lockdown, inform, counter, evacuate, say traditional strategies might make students sitting ducks for a gunman.

Opponents say the tactics encouraged by A.L.i.C.E., which include empowering kids to make tough decisions including fighting back, barricading doors and running are too dangerous.

They don’t want their kid leading the charge against a killer, the opponents say. Still, some 1.6 million students in almost 300 school systems, from elementary schools to colleges and universities, have had A.L.i.C.E. training, according to the report.

Let us know your thoughts in the comments section.