Mississippi school districts are under a Level 2 alert

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, February 18, 2003

NATCHEZ &045; Like the rest of the country, Mississippi school districts have increased their campus readiness.

Mississippi public schools are under a Level 2 alert because of the nation’s upgraded terror alert, officials say.

The Level 2 alert means school administrators and teachers should be extra conscious and review their crisis response plans, in case anything happens.

Email newsletter signup

The state Department of Education has five levels of ”campus readiness.” They range from Level 1, a normally operating campus, to Level 5, the closing of schools because of repeated attacks on campuses.

Mary Kate Garvin, interim superintendent for Natchez-Adams County School District, said the alert is part of the state’s plan to keep districts informed, but there is no cause for students or parents to worry about any immediate danger.

&uot;There’s no real concern at this time,&uot; she said. &uot;Hopefully we will stay that way.&uot;

State Superintendent of Education Henry Johnson issued the Level 2 alert for all school districts on Feb. 7, the same day the national terror alert level was raised. The state’s public schools educate about 500,000 children.

Johnson said his memo to school district superintendents is due to recommendations by the Mississippi Emergency Management Agency, which warned of ”nonspecific threat information.”

”It’s just a heightened sense of awareness to security … to be on the lookout for anything that might be suspicious,” Johnson said.

Garvin said the school district would notify parents, students and the public if the district is informed of any increased alert status. She said under any increased level of alertness the state and school districts would follow the guidelines established in the Emergency Preparedness Plan. The plan covers terrorist, hostage and nuclear disasters.

&uot;We have those things addressed,&uot; she said. &uot;We have plans developed in the district and across the state, but right now there’s no indication of any immediate danger.&uot;

Garvin said school officials discussed the alert and decided since there were no specific threats within the district, students and parents did not need to be notified.

&uot;At this point, there’s no need to alert the students,&uot; she said. &uot;Students have enough to worry about with their grades, and there’s no need to get the community excited.&uot;

Garvin said officials discussed holding drills within the schools, but they haven’t made any specific plans at this time, adding that district officials are aware of the heightened national concern.

&uot;We’re staying on top of it,&uot; she said.

The Associated Press contributed to this story