MARION COUNTY, Fla. - On the day a gunman shot and killed two dozen people at a school in Connecticut, school officials in Marion County are sending alerts to reassure parents that measures are in place to protect their children.
Parent Rhonda Crickenberger said she heard about the massacre in Connecticut shortly before she picked her daughter up from school on Friday.
All students were dismissed early but only because it was the scheduled holiday break.
"It just hit home, like, wow," said Crickenberger. "That could have been my kid. One of our schools, many of the kids here playing, it could have been anywhere."
"This is a horrible situation that every school district in the country and the world is going to deal with," said Kevin Christian of Marion County Schools.
Christian said all of Marion County's 52 schools have tested crisis plans in place, with unique provisions for schools in the city and those in rural areas.
On Friday night, all parents will receive a recorded phone message from the superintendent, first expressing prayers for the families in New England.
"But we also want our community to know that we have plans in place," said Christian.