OCEAN SPRINGS, Miss. (WLOX) - The Ocean Springs School District believes students and staff are more prepared after an unannounced intruder drill on Monday morning. However, the randomness of the drill left many parents and students feeling nervous.
The school’s Facebook page soon filled with comments from parents and students, with multiple people saying their children called them in tears believing their lives were in danger.
Bethany Fayard said she’s never been so scared as a parent after hearing there was a possible active shooting at Ocean Springs High.
“I sat here and looked at the pictures of my child on my desk just praying that he’s okay,” she said.
Within 15 minutes of the drill ending, the school announced to students that it was a drill. An email was then sent to parents notifying them, as well.
Word continued to spread on social media, causing many parents to panic.
“Parents were hearing from their kids, they were getting text messages where their children were scared and nobody could seem to confirm if it was real," said Fayard.
Many other parents on Facebook said they understand why drills like these are necessary in today’s world.
Brooks McKay is the director of operations for the Ocean Springs School District. He said he understands the fear parents felt but agrees that unannounced drills are needed so students know what to do in the event there is an actual intruder on campus.
“I have a son at that school as well, a senior in high school, and of course he texted me as well while this is going on and I can’t respond, you know," said McKay. “So it hits home with me.”
McKay said the school district planned the unannounced drill to match the unexpected nature of school shootings.
“We want an accurate gauge of where we’re at. If we tell them it’s a drill, they may not go with a sense of urgency," he said.
The school district worked closely with security experts to strengthen points that were most vulnerable, like times when students are out of class.
“Some students knew exactly what to do because we’ve even had a video train them. If you’re in the courtyard, do this. If you’re in the cafeteria, do this,” McKay explained.
The school district chose this approach to show students that school shootings are possible at any moment.
“As painful as it was… I’m glad that they did it," Fayard said. “As long as the risk is out there for someone to come to school with a gun and shoot their friends and shoot their teachers, these children need to be prepared.”
McKay remembered a time when active shootings were not so common.
“Times have changed and we’re trying to be prepared and ultimately, at the end of the day, we’re trying to keep our students and staff safe," he said.
Some parents agreed that the drills were needed but offered suggestions on how they could be better handled, such as informing parents ahead of time.