School District Tackles Mental Health Related to School Threats

An unexpected false lock alarm and a 9-1-1 call left students at Midway Middle School feeling unsafe. Now they are dealing with the consequences.

HEWITT, Texas – The recent school shootings like those in Oxford, Michigan and Arlington, TX have 6 News that looks at the consequences and psychological effects they are having on students across the country .

“It’s really important to remind students and parents that you know, even with the news, the things we hear about, the violence in schools, the things that happen – schools are statistically still a really safe place to be.” said Anne-Marie Zellers, Midway Independent School District coordinator for student support services

MISD takes the time to highlight mental health after a recent and unexpected event at Midway Middle School on December 3.

“It wasn’t an emergency, it was a false alarm that was exacerbated by a call to 911, but it allowed us to really check out the exact way people react in an emergency,” said MISD Director of Communications, Traci Marlin. “It wasn’t an emergency, but we treated it completely like it was.”

Scary but confusing situation in college, but the district wants people to know there was no credible threat or real emergency, but because it was unplanned it was treated as real.

Marlin says a student accidentally set off the lock-out alarm, which can be done from anywhere in the school. During a stint period, the students were taken from the hallways and held in safe places until law enforcement swept the campus and found it safe.

Students, parents and staff are always notified when a lockdown exercise is due to take place, which is required by a new Texas law, but Friday’s lockout alert did not have a notice, so seemed real.

But the event didn’t end there – students, parents and staff face the consequences.

“Because Friday’s incident was not a planned active threat exercise, there had been no warning to the students, so completely natural that they all felt the same emotions as if it were a real threat to students, ”Zellers explained.

Zellers and the rest of his student support services team helped the Midway Panthers deal with the anxiety and stress of what happened.

A school-wide debriefing took place on Monday morning and those in need received additional help.

MISD officials don’t want students to be afraid, but also to be prepared for what can happen when the threat is real, especially as threats continue across the country.

“We incorporate trauma informed practices, we make sure to follow the students after any of these locking or active threat exercises so that they can deal with if there are emotions, anxiety,” Zellers said.

By law, all schools are required to have an anonymous reporting app or feature. Midway ISD offers the Stop It counseling line which allows students and parents to report threats against a building or people. District officials say it is most often used to check the well-being of others.

Daniel E. Murphy