Manatee Co. schools increase officers, mental health resources

- There's one way to describe how parents in Manatee County have felt this week. 

"Off-the-chart stressful," said parent Heather McKay. 

With dozens of threats to schools, six felony arrests of students, and three high schools on lockdown, it's enough to make anyone sick to their stomach; especially students. 

McKay says she has noticed a difference in both her children. 

"My younger one is normally not my stressful child and she started hearing noises around the house," said McKay. "My older child in middle school started having stomach issues and headaches this week."

She and her kids are not alone. A lot of parents say they're letting their kids stay home

"I've actually had some parents reach out to me and ask me, 'What have you done? What are you going to do,'" said McKay. 

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As the Manatee County School District deals with rumors and false threats, it's also working to make sure students are okay. 

Officials announced Friday the addition of 34 school resource officers to the system to help keep kids safe. 

The announcement follows Governor Rick Scott's proposed plan to pump funding into school systems for more officers, security measures, and mental health support initiatives. 

Manatee County officials are not waiting for that plan to go through, however. The said Friday they are also working with counselors and school psychologists and provided information to principals and teachers to engage students and help them process what they're going through. 

If they need to, students can speak with a counselor. 

"I highly recommend that parents, every day in the morning, in the afternoon, engage in discussions at the appropriate level with your child to determine if there are an abnormal level of anxiety, fear, [or] nightmares, and make your school administrators and your child's teacher aware," said school board member Dr. Scott Hopes. 

Dr. Hopes said it's up to the whole community - including the schools - to make sure students are okay. 

"Reach out because the only way we are able to offer those services to your child, our student, is if we are aware of it," he said. 

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