In review

Terri Saunders
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Education officials, law enforcement, to meet after lockdown at three schools last month

A review of policies and procedures will be undertaken later this month in order to determine what went right, and what went wrong, when three schools in Gander had to be locked down following an alleged threat.

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“It’s a chance for us to meet with school officials, and law enforcement officials, to take a look at how things were done,” said Charlie McCormack, director of the Nova Central School District. “Since I’ve been here, we’ve not had a situation like this, so it’s important for us to do a review to see where things went right, and where they might have gone wrong.”

The review comes several weeks after Gander Collegiate, St. Paul’s Intermediate School, and Gander Academy were placed in lockdown after at administrators at at least one of the schools received what was described as a threatening letter.

Mr. McCormack would not comment on reports more than one of the schools received a threat, suggesting that continues to be information being used as part of the ongoing RCMP investigation.

Police have said there was at least one letter received at one of the schools which contained threats, and that was the reason for the lockdown.

The decision to apply the safety procedure to all three schools came at the suggestion of the police, Mr. McCormack said.

“The RCMP indicated it would be in the best interest of the safety of all of our students to lockdown all three schools,” he said. “First and foremost, our priority is the safety of our students, and it will continue to be so.”

Mr. McCormack said another element of the review will be to find ways to educate the public, in particular parents, as to why these safety procedures are in place, and how they work.

“Of course it’s a parent’s first instinct, when they hear something like this is happening, to want to rush to the school and remove their child,” he said. “That’s perfectly understandable. I spoke with a parent not long after the incident, and she told me that if she’d been in town when it happened, she would have gone straight to the school to get her child.

“To have had all of their parents rush over their during a situation like this would not have been in the best interest of safety.” Charlie McCormack, director, Nova Central School District

“What we are hoping to get across to the community is that this is not in the best interest of safety. Take Gander Academy for example. You’ve got a student population of almost 1,000. To have had all of their parents rush over their during a situation like this would not have been in the best interest of safety.”

Police had not said as of The Beacon’s deadline whether a suspect has been identified in the case. In the meantime, education officials and law enforcement specialists are hoping the upcoming review will result in positive changes, if any are necessary, to existing safety procedures.

“At the top of our list is student safety,” said Mr. McCormack. “It always has been and it always will be. It may be difficult for some people to understand why we would have to control access to a school, including parental access, during a situation like this, but it’s important for people to be able to trust that everything is being done with student safety as the number one priority.”

 tsaunders@ganderbeacon.ca

Twitter: @Beacon1Reporter

Organizations: Gander Academy, RCMP, Intermediate School

Geographic location: St. Paul

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