Crisis and Lockdown Procedure

In 2017, ISD 728 began implementing a more proactive approach to responding to threats of school violence such as active shooter situations and other imminent threats to safety that require schools to lockdown. District and school administrators, along with all staff, are being educated in ALICE response, a less passive response to a crisis situation that gives staff and responders more options based on the circumstances of the incident.

The ALICE acronym stands for Alert, Lockdown, Inform, Counter and Evacuate. Our community law enforcement partners have been actively involved in training staff districtwide and are assisting with practice lockdown drills using the ALICE concepts. These response protocols are being introduced to students gradually and at a developmentally appropriate level as schools practice the five lockdown drills required by state law.

The threat of an active shooter situation in our schools is rare but real. Empowering our staff with proactive response strategies, rather than a passive, one-size fits all approach is a positive change to our district’s emergency response and crisis management plans and protocols. Ultimately we hope we never have to utilize these plans, but in the event we do, please be assured that staff are well prepared to act in the best interests of safety for all.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact your student’s building principal or Rachel Hilyar,
Assistant Director of Prevention, Safety and Grants at 763-241-3400 x5003.

ALICE Training

History of ALICE Training

Since no event is the same, it is important to recognize that there is no one single response that works. ALICE empowers people with tools to protect themselves and others when faced with a threat that has become all to real in many schools in America.

How to Talk to Your Kids about School Lockdown Drills without Scaring Them

As unfortunate as it might be, lockdown drills have become a normal occurrence at most public schools across the country, in some places as commonplace now as fire drills. And though they can be scary for young children, they’re necessary. It’s not easy to explain to your child why lockdown drills are necessary or what exactly they’re protecting them against without inciting fear. But there are some strategies available for speaking to your children about the importance and purpose of lockdown drills.

Here are just a few:

1. Stay Calm

Children often react first to an adult’s reaction, then to whatever situation is causing the reaction. For example, if your child falls and scrapes their knee. Their initial reaction might be to cry when they see the blood or because it hurts. But the severity of their reaction will have a lot to do with how you, as the parent, react. If you start panicking, your child will panic too because they’ll think there’s reason to: “If mommy is getting upset there must be something really wrong!” This theory holds true for discussing lockdown drills. If you approach the subject with a calm and even tone, your child will not be initially alarmed. They’re more apt to calmly sit and listen to what you have to say. Acting in a paranoid or fearful way will only instill unnecessary fear in your child.

2. Be Open to Questions

You want your child to feel comfortable asking you questions, about anything in life, but especially about something they’re concerned or curious about. Try not to meet their questions with resistance or negativity. Be open to whatever is going on in their minds. The more knowledge and understanding of the situation they have, the more comfortable they may become with the practice.

3. Use Comparisons

It’s sometimes easier for children to understand a new concept when they have a familiar reference to compare it too. The most common and logical comparison to a lockdown drill is a fire drill. Most children are familiar with fire drills before they even enter public school. Many daycare and childcare centers are required to perform routine fire drills. You might even have a fire plan in place for your home. Explain to your child that a lockdown drill is very similar to a fire drill. It’s something the schools use just in case of an emergency and for practice because practice makes perfect! You can even compare practicing drills to wearing a helmet or seat belt. You do these things to be safe, just in case there’s an accident or your child falls off their bike. These things may never happen, but if they do, you’re protected. The more relaxed and less serious you remain while discussing lockdown drills, the more relaxed your child will be. Emphasize that lockdown drills aren’t just for the students but for teachers as well and that they’re designed to keep everyone safe.

4. Helping Them Understand the Threat

But as we know, lockdown drills are in place for a very serious reason. It’s perfectly fine to ease your young child’s mind by making “light” of the situation and explaining that it’s simply for practice. But your inquisitive child will likely ask what a lockdown drill is keeping them safe from. They already view teachers and other adults as authority figures. Explain to your child that sometimes, adults and teachers see a potential threat or something unsafe that children don’t see. This threat may be nothing, but until the adults can determine that, a lockdown drill is a good way to keep them safe. Your child’s next question might be, “Well, what kind of unsafe stuff?”

My son is 7 and I ry to be as honest with him as possible, without striking fear. He knows that people make poor choices at times—from his friends in class to adults. When discussing what threats lockdown drills are addressing, explain that it’s the school’s job to keep the children safe from any adults around that might be making poor choices. There’s really no need to explain further what those choices are. I often tell my son, “Sometimes people just do things that we don’t understand. Things that we would never do.” If your child is a little bit older you can go as far as to say, “Sometimes people get angry and confused and end up hurting people.” You know your child best, so offer as much or as little explanation as you think is appropriate or necessary.

5. Encourage Your Child to Be a Helper

Most kids love nothing more than being a helper, especially to adults! Making children part of what’s going on is a great way to involve them in their own safety practice, such as lockdown drills. Try asking your child about the lockdown drill process. “So, what do you do first?” or “What happens next?” Become excited and involved in what’s happening. Your child will feel important and may view the drill as a necessary “job” they have, not as a scary experience.

6. Always be Available

It’s important to always be available for your child to ask questions, voice their concerns and simply listen to what they have to say. The first few lockdown drills your child experiences might be scary for them, but over time, they should become more comfortable with the process. If you need further information or help explaining lockdown drills with your child, speaking to your school’s principal or counselor.

BONUS CONTENT! If you are interested in knowing more, ALICE provides a 20 minute module designed for caretakers to learn about ALICE, how their child's school is implementing ALICE, and resources for how they can talk to their children about ALICE. To access this module, email

School Emergency Information

School Emergency Information for Families

Our district takes proactive measures to protect the health and safety of our students, staff and visitors. A variety of programs and procedures are in place which address safety and security, including:

  • Access to each school building is limited. Doors are locked during the school day with the exception of one main entrance

  • Visitors to our schools must check in at the office, sign the visitor log and are then issued visitor badges. Staff members watch for visitors to be sure they are wearing their visitor badge and will escort any visitor without a visitor badge to the office to check in

  • Our district has a crisis plan designed to protect students, staff and visitors in case of an emergency. Each school and district facility has a crisis plan in place that addresses specific steps to be taken at that building in an emergency situation. These plans address a variety of different emergencies and are tested and refined through drills and training exercises.

  • District schools practice drills to ensure staff and students know what to do in a variety of emergency situations. State law requires each school to practice 5 fire drills, 5 lockdown drills and 1 tornado drill each year

  • Police Liaison Officers from local law enforcement agencies assist at each school with promoting safety, preventing and investigating delinquent and criminal behavior, enforcing school rules and policies and teaching drug education, bully prevention and traffic safety to students and parents

  • Safe Schools Committees in Elk River, Rogers and Zimmerman meet throughout the school year to address topics related to fostering a safe and orderly learning environment for all

  • Social workers, guidance counselors, teachers and school staff are available to talk with students who may be concerned about their own safety in school. Crisis Flight Teams respond to schools following a crisis to provide additional support

  • In the event of a school emergency, families can get critical information and directions by doing one of the following:

  • Check for recorded phone messages from ParentLink, the district’s emergency notification system

  • Check e-mail for instant school news and alerts

  • Visit the school and/or district website at

  • Tune to local television stations, KARE 11, WCCO, KSTP and Fox 9

In the event of an emergency at your child’s school, it is also important to know the following terms:


A lockdown takes place if an internal or external threat is identified at the school. All school doors are locked and students are contained to classrooms. No entry into or exit (with the exception of an evacuation) from the school will be allowed until an “all-clear” announcement is made. Students will NOT be released during a lockdown.

Secure Mode

Secure mode occurs when there is a threat outside the building or there are circumstances from which people need to be kept away. Access to and from the building is limited. All students and classes will remain inside. The school doors are locked and movement between rooms is controlled. Regular classroom instruction and activities will continue.


Students take refuge in designated areas to protect them from hazardous materials or severe weather. No entry into or exit from the school will be allowed until an “all-clear” announcement is made. Students will NOT be released during shelter-in-place.


In the event of certain building emergencies, students will be relocated to an evacuation assembly area. Students will be released ONLY to parents/guardians with picture ID and permission from a district official. This procedure is necessary to account for the whereabouts of all students.

When and Why Are Students and Staff Asked to Lockdown, Shelter-in-Place or Evacuate?

A school crisis can take a number of forms including an environmental event, such as a chemical spill or gas leak; a weather emergency, such as a tornado warning; or an intruder in or near the school. The nature of a school crisis dictates whether school officials will put in place a lockdown, secure mode, shelter-in-place, evacuation, or any combination of two of these protocols, as a means to ensure the safety and wellbeing of students and staff.

In Case of a School Emergency:

Although your first reaction would be to call or rush to your child’s school, please follow the tips listed below.

  • DO tune into local TV/Radio stations or ISD 728 websites for official school news alerts.

  • DO rely only on official communication from your school or public safety officials; phone calls and/or emails.

  • DO listen for official information regarding reunification with your child.

  • DO NOT call or rush to your child’s school. Your presence could interfere with emergency responders.

  • DO NOT phone your child or school. Staff and students are discouraged from using cell phone communication for safety reasons.

Parent Responsibilities During a School Emergency and Reunification After a School Emergency:

In a school emergency, the first instinct as a parent is to pick up the telephone and start calling the school or rush up to the school and get your child/children. The truth is, this only complicates matters from a safety and security standpoint. Parents too close to an incident often hinder the rescue attempts of police and officials on the scene. The best action parents can take in an emergency is to stay close to their phone and email and to monitor local radio and TV reports for regular updates and instructions.

How Can I Be Reunited with My Child?

Parents/Guardians will be directed by school or public safety officials via phone call or email to their child’s specific location. Students will be released ONLY to parents/ guardians who are documented as emergency contacts and who present a picture ID such as a driver’s license, military ID or passport. The reunification process can be time-consuming so parents are urged to be patient.

How Can You Help?

Ensure that your child’s emergency contact information is accurate and current. The district uses the ParentLink notification system to notify parents of inclement weather and emergencies. Become familiar with your schools’ emergency communication procedures. Each school is committed to providing accurate and timely information in the event of an emergency.

If you have questions, please feel free to contact your student's building principal or Rachel Hilyar, Assistant Director of Prevention, Safety and Grants at 763-241-3400 x5003.

The safety of our students, staff and visitors is our top priority. Students, staff and visitors are reminded to report any concerns/suspicious activity to administration and/or law enforcement.