Intruder safety drill encounters technological difficulties


Ashley Boak

On Thursday Sept. 24, DGS held its first active intruder drill of the year.

DGS held an intruder safety drill to practice ALICE procedures and test the BluePoint Alert Solutions system on Thursday Sept. 26, with students and staff under the impression an announcement would be made with the location and description of the fake intruder; however, no such announcement occurred.

Associate Principal of Operations and Technology Omar Davis explained the reason for the lack of the presumed announcement in an afternoon email sent to DGS staff.

It was widely communicated that during the BluePoint activation, additional information would be shared. Unfortunately, there was a malfunction with the PA patch necessary to cut in and over the BluePoint message being played, to make an additional announcement. We will be working with our technicians to fix this issue,” Davis said.

Junior Vesta Vaidotaite was in the cafeteria during the drill and described her experience waiting for the PA announcement after hearing the BluePoint system go off.

“We just stood there and waited for them to say something, we waited for a long time, like two or three minutes maybe. It was confusing, because if this was a real situation, I don’t think anyone would want to wait such a long time… we were expecting to know where [the intruder was] during the [drill] too,” Vaidotaite said.  

The requirement of an active intruder drill came as the result of a state mandate last year, which states that all Illinois schools must “conduct a policy activity drill with students in the first 90 days of the school year,” Principal Ed Schwartz said. 

English teacher Zachary Kuhn expressed that his students’ response was one of frustration.

“My students were frustrated that there was not an announcement, whether there was a shooter or where specifically the shooter would be, which I had actually told them [the administration] would do. The frustration that my students had was that it didn’t feel like a complete drill to them,” Kuhn said. 

Senior Brad Gall is one student who had an issue with today’s drill.

“It was stupid, not accurate at all and in no way prepared us in any way in case there was a real intruder, [because they] never even told us where [the intruder] was,” Gall said. 

Students had been informed of the impending drill by a Monday Sept. 23 email from Superintendent Dr. Hank Thiele, as well as by the morning announcements for several days. Additionally, staff underwent a training during a late start Monday, complete with “a video from the ALICE Institute that explains everything, options, demonstrations and it’s probably one of the best videos I’ve seen [on the subject],” Schwartz said. 

Senior Marley Jakubczak hopes that the situation can be solved quickly so students will have a chance to practice this type of drill again.

“I believe we should do the ALICE drill again in the near future once administration figures out the technical difficulties. This way students will be able to choose which path they want to take, in terms of their safety,” Jakubczak said.