Facebook Rumor Spreads Panic through Bay County Schools

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The Bay County School District's message to parents and students Tuesday- schools are open and schools are safe. That reassurance was needed after a Facebook post rumoring a highschool shooting spread like wildfire.

"150 calls and emails today alone. They said there would be some gunfure at one of the campuses on Friday, and they felt it was a good day not to be on campus," said Bay County School District Safety and Security Chief Mike Jones.

The panic came on the heels of last week's tragic shooting at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut. Tensions across the country still understandably high, Bay County School District officials maintained Tuesday's rash of rumors were just that, rumors.

"We have not located anybody that has said, 'I'm going to do that.' It's just been people saying, 'We hear that's going to happen.' We have this happen a lot of times as it gets closer to the holidays and testing days these kinds of rumors start," Chief Jones said.

Jones added that Bay County's schools are among the safest in the country with several upgrades and changes implemented after a disgruntled Clay Dukes opened fire at a school board meeting two years ago.

"Security camera systems, access control systems to our schools, visitor identification systems," Jones said.

But in light of what happened at Sandy Hook, the school district said it's not taking any chances, announcing Tuesday the creation of a task force to further address school safety.

"We got a long way to go, there's always room for improvement. We can never stop a serious threat, we minimize, and that's what we tell our folks. We train them to spot the obvious and take action before things get bad," said Jones.

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