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Midway ISD addresses mental health after life-like school threat

An unexpected, false lockdown alarm and 9-1-1 call left students at Midway Middle School feeling like they were in danger. Now they're dealing with the aftermath.

HEWITT, Texas — Recent school shootings like the ones in Oxford, Michigan and Arlington, Texas has 6 News looking into the aftermath and psychological effects they have on students across the country.

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

MISD is taking the time to highlight mental health after a recent, unexpected event at Midway Middle School Dec. 3.

"It was not an emergency, it was a false alarm that was exacerbated by a 911 call, but what it led to was that we were able to really check the exact way people respond in an emergency situation," said MISD's Director of Communications, Traci Marlin. "It was not an emergency, but we did treat it completely as if it was one."

A scary but confusing situation at the middle school on but the district wants people to know there was no credible threat or actual emergency, but because it was unplanned -- it was treated as real.

Marlin says a student accidently set off the lockdown alarm which can be done from anywhere in the school. During a passing period, students were pulled from the hallways and held in safe places until law enforcement swept the campus and deemed it safe. 

Students, parents and staff are always warned when a lockdown drill is to happen which is required by a new Texas law, but Friday's lockdown alert didn't have a notice making it seem real.

But the event didn't end there -- students, parents and staff are dealing with the aftermath.

"Because Friday's incident was not a planned active threat exercise there was no advance notice to students, so completely natural that they felt all the same emotions as if it had been a real threat to the students," Zellers explained.

Zellers and the rest of her student support services team helped Midway Panthers still dealing with the anxiety and stress of what happened.

A school wide debriefing was held Monday morning and those who needed it got the extra help.

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

"We do incorporate trauma informed practices, we make sure that we follow up with students after any of those lockdown or active threat exercises so that they can process if there any emotions, anxiety," Zellers said.

By law, all schools are required to have anonymous reporting app or feature available. Midway ISD offers the Stop It tip line which students and parents can report threats to a building or people. District officials say it's most commonly used to check on the well being of others.