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Bomb threat forces evacuation of schools
A bomb threat that forced the evacuation of North Island College and Timberline Secondary School is under investigation.
Tom Longridge, superintendent for School District 72, said the RCMP is looking in to the incident which cancelled classes at both schools on Friday.
“We were told this is under investigation by the RCMP,” Longridge said. “It is exam week at the college – I don’t know if that had any bearing.”
Longridge noted the threat also came on the eve of the one-year anniversary of the Sandy Hook Elementary school shooting in Newtown, Connecticut and it was a Friday the 13th.
RCMP were notified of the bomb threat, which targeted the Campbell River and Comox Valley North Island College campuses, through a note found in the community, according to School District 72’s website.
Campbell River RCMP Sgt. Terry Deley said the police would not be releasing any other information to thwart copycats.
Timberline student Nick Cox said he was in the middle of his TV productions class, which was doing a live broadcast, when the fire alarm sounded just before 10:15 a.m.
All the students evacuated the shared Timberline and North Island College building but were unsure of what was going on.
“On my way out, in the hall I saw our vice-principal and I asked if it was a drill and he said it wasn’t,” said Cox, a Grade 11 student. “We had to stand outside in the cold for half an hour before the teachers came back and told us it was a bomb threat and they dismissed us for the rest of the day.”
Longridge said the decision was made to send the students home because it was cold and raining and most of the students weren’t dressed properly because they had to exit the building so quickly.
“We were told by the police that it would be an extensive search of the building and they told us it would be an extensive period of time,” Longridge said. “We made the decision that it wasn’t safe for the students to stand out in the cold for a lengthy period of time.”
The superintendent noted that the school district was following its safety plan which is enacted in case of an emergency or a potential threat. He said each school has its own, site-based safety plan and emergency response plan so staff know what to do.
After the decision was made to dismiss students early, buses were called to the school to take students to Robron Centre who weren’t within walking distance or who didn’t have a parent or guardian to pick them up.
Longride said each student’s household was called with an automated voice message to inform parents of the situation and an emergency notice was also posted on both Timberline and School District 72’s websites, as well as on the school district’s Twitter feed and its Facebook page.
The bomb threat came on a day that college students at both Campbell River and Comox Valley campuses were writing final exams which had to be re-scheduled.
The incident also forced some high school students to have their grad photos rescheduled.