Albany- Merry Acres Middle School principal Larry Worthy knows the school's code red policy well.
"There was a gentlemen that escaped and was over here a Merry Acres on morning and ran in our gym as a matter of fact about 7 o'clock in the morning," he says.
Fortunately, the school wasn't full of students at the time, but Worthy says he made sure all staff members acted as if there were.
"If you'll notice each door is covered. Once we do call a code red they're to shut the door, lock it, cover the window, so nobody could come see what was in there."
"Basically what a code red is is a lock down. This means that students all in the classroom, the doors are locked, the teachers take roll to make sure that everyone's there, they cut out the lights, and they wait for further instructions," say Assistant. Superintendent Carlos Keith.
Keith says several elementary schools have had to go to code red this year, and it's only used in certain specific instances.
"When there's eminent danger. If there's a stranger or someone who's on the campus with a weapon or who poses a threat or if there's some other emergency that requires an ambulance or a fire," Keith says.
Once all classrooms are locked, custodial staff and administrators clear the halls of any other students, and man all the exterior doors.
"Our teachers have a key to get in this door right here, but otherwise nobody can get in a door just to come into the school and start doing something crazy," Worthy says.
A system safety committee does random code red drills at all schools throughout the year, and at Merry Acres Worthy even conducts his own.
"We practice for fire drills, we practice for tornados, we practice for everything and it's just as important to practice for a code red," says Worthy.
Worthy also says the students are dismissed in shifts. That way if they had to call a code red after school, they could keep the remaining students inside and deal with securing the few who are already outdoors.
Dougherty County school system also has a new safety hotline and urges any students, parents, or teachers to report any suspicious activity. That number is 229-483-6330 extension 1823. All calls are anonymous.