SCHOOL SCARE: The Effects of Social Media

Concerns over a possible gun at Boone High School forced an evacuation Monday afternoon.  It started around 1:00 p.m. when a parent e-mailed the school saying their child overhead other students talking about a gun. By coincidence, the school’s fire alarms went off accidentally at the same time.

School leaders responded by evacuating the high school and locking-down all other schools in the district. Officers came up empty during a search of the school and the all clear was given shortly after 5 p.m.

Most students didn’t know why they were being evacuated, and many turned to social media for answers, but that ended up making the situation even more frightening.

“I logged onto Facebook and I found out that there was a fire or a shooting or a bomb threat or something,” said Boone high school student Haley Searcy.

“The craziest thing I heard was there was a guy with an M-16 standing on top of the school shooting,” said Boone High School student Janie Consolver, “you couldn’t keep up with what new rumor was going to come up in the next five minutes.”

At first, Boone High School students were told it was just a fire drill, but as they were evacuating the building to go across the street to the YMCA, they saw officers start to pull out their guns.

“We were up in the locker rooms for a while and we were crying. Pretty much everyone was,” said Consolver.

Part of the panic came from not knowing what was going on. Students say not even their teachers had answers.

While the confusion scared students, it angered some of their parents, especially those hearing about it second hand and not from the school.

The superintendent says the district did send out parent alerts, but it wasn’t their first priority.

“Our first priority was to make sure everyone was in a safe location and away from where police were working. That allowed us to organize things and contact parents,” said Boone Superintendent Brad Manard. So while he had hoped technology would help them in today’s situation, it made it even more challenging. “Please understand that their kids were texting them before police were there in some cases,” Manard added.

School officials say even though everything went according to procedure, they will still take a look at their emergency plans to see what if anything they can improve.

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