Opening communication channels necessary for school district

Published 12:01 am Thursday, February 22, 2018

Fortunately, Tuesday’s incident at Natchez High School was a situation that was blown out of proportion.

But it could have been an extremely serious one.

A group text in which one student threatened another spiraled out of control when the re-telling of the content began to spark rumors that someone with a gun was on the campus.

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Law enforcement and school district officials made a good decision to simply stop and verify that the school was in fact safe.

No firearms were found.

What was found, however, were some lapses in the school district’s plans, Superintendent Fred Butcher said late Tuesday.

Butcher was meeting with both law enforcement leaders as well as district administrators to review the incident and look for ways to improve any response in the future. He is wise to have done that.

Clearly, the largest problem from the outside looking in was a lack of communication to parents and others concerned with what was happening.

In our massively connected world, clearly and efficiently communicating with others should not be as difficult.

Unfortunately, the district left hundreds of parents in a painful limbo of not knowing if their children were safe.

In addition to the district’s own internal telephone alert system, district leaders should also use local media to quickly get the word out.

A simple call, email or text to this newspaper, for example, could have quickly gotten the message out that no one had been hurt, the lockdown was simply precautionary and that everyone was safe. Rather than closing off communication, the district should use as many channels as are available to get its message out quickly.