Students at all three Whitwell schools will return Thursday as the manhunt for a robbery suspect continues.

One parent tells Channel 3, she feels that her kids are just as safe at school as they are at home.

"Just don't live in fear, you can't do that,” Amanda Simmons says. “Just protect yourself and be aware."

Amanda Simmons has three kids who attend Whitwell schools.

They are all at home Wednesday, since schools closed during the manhunt for Dewayne Halfacre.

She says she is not letting the situation scare her, but is being cautious and having her kids do the same.

"We do move faster like to get in the car and things like that,” Simmons says.

"We're not outside as much; I don't let them go outside and play at this time,” Simmons says. “That's just temporary."

Simmons says she believes her kids would be just as safe if they were at school.

Marion County schools superintendent Mark Griffith says they are staying in contact with law enforcement and using caution.

"I had a long sleepless night last night, let me say that," Griffith tells Channel 3.

Even though the buildings are closed, administrators are still hard at work, walking through school buildings periodically throughout the day to make sure they are clear.

"I walked the perimeter of all the buildings just to make sure that there was no broken windows, no jammed doors or anything like that,” Griffith says.

He says the students’ safety is the most important thing. Even the thought of something bad happening in one of the buildings makes him emotional.

"If something broke out there, you know, it would be dreadful,” Griffith says. “So yeah, there's a grave concern among myself especially."

The schools are exercising caution like the community.

Simmons says she is confident in the administration and hopes her kids will be back in the classroom soon.

She also hopes Halfacre gets help.

“It's just, it's a sad situation,” Simmons says. “You have to remember this guy is a son, he's a dad, he's family to somebody."

Of course, Whitwell residents are being urged to make sure they lock their doors, cars, and windows at all times.

Extra patrol officers will be on-hand as students return to school on Thursday.