For the last several days the community in Whitwell has been on edge, businesses closed and the schools canceled classes waiting for a fugitive who could be nearby.

“My kids did not want to go inside and didn’t want to go to sleep for two days,” said Joanie Garcia, Whitwell Parent.

The buses are back on Whitwell campuses and so are Marion County deputies.

“We’re on what’s called a soft lockdown,” Dr. Mark Griffith said.

Superintendent Griffith said this means school is in session but they’re taking a few extra precautions while authorities continue to hunt for a wanted fugitive.

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“We have administrators at each door, we’re out here in the area bringing the kids in,” he explained.

Some parents have also been cleared to walk the school grounds to keep any potential intruder out. But why is there school if an armed suspect is still out there? 

“I think the overall consensus was that it’s okay to go back to school,” he said.

Although some parents we spoke with were hesitant, they agree going back to school is the right call.

“I didn’t want to bring them but I know that they are better off here than they are just like they are at home,” Garcia said.

While under the soft lockdown, students are not allowed outside and all extracurricular activities are cancelled. A hard lockdown would be no one could come in or leave the building. All of these measures for the safety of students and it’s provides some peace of mind for parents.

“To then they love our kids just as much as we love them. This community is just such a great place to raise kids and it’s unusual for something like that to happen,” Garcia said.

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    Marion County Schools have three snow days left before they have to make up days. Dr. Griffith hopes to work with the Commissioner of education so students don’t have to make up the days from this week.