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SVRSS Receives Email Threat

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On Oct. 7 at approximately 1:30 p.m. the administration at the Swan Valley Regional Secondary School received a threatening email that would end up closing the entire division.
“While I will not go into details of the threat, as the RCMP has recommended for the investigation we do not, it was a threat to harm the school and that they had the capability to do so,” said Swan Valley School Division Superintendent Jon Zilkey.
Steps were immediately taken by the division to ensure the safety of the students in the building being threatened as well as the rest of the division’s schools.
“The principal contacted the RCMP and we put the school in a hold and secure, limiting the access, with all outside doors locked and monitored,” said Zilkey, noting the RCMP arrived on scene very quickly and stayed for the rest of the day.
“We notified all other school principals of the threat at SVRSS.”
After consulting with the RCMP the SVSD decided to close the entire division for Tuesday (Oct. 8).
“We closed the entire division due to the proximity of all of our schools,” Zilkey said. “We wanted to be extremely cautious given the situation. This included all students and employees in all areas.
“We also felt this would give the RCMP time to investigate further. We sent a letter out to all staff, students and parents explaining the situation as well as possible.”
After one day of closure, the division announced the decision to resume classes on Wednesday (Oct. 9).
“We had taken the day to give the RCMP time to investigate and look for ongoing threats and they had indicated that there had been no new information to suggest an escalation of these threats for our schools,” said Zilkey.
“We worked with the RCMP to take precautionary measures, including have an RCMP officer stationed at SVRSS for the remainder of the week and having an RCMP presence in all our schools.
“We directed all schools to control the access to their front doors, which would be locked and monitored,” he continued. “We felt we were prepared however we respected and understood the fact that some students, staff and parents would be apprehensive so we made student and staff attendance optional the rest of the week.
“We again sent a letter home to all students, staff and parents explaining these steps and that if they had questions they could call or email me.”
Zilkey added that he has had the opportunity to talk with many families this week about the situation.
“We will continue to have an RCMP presence this week at SVRSS and visits to our other schools,” he said.
“We have been in constant contact with the RCMP who have kept us updated on the situation. They have been incredibly helpful and cooperative with the school division.
“I want to thank the staff, students and parents for their work and understanding in this difficult time,” he continued. “Of course there is going to be fear, that is understandable and expected, but people have really come together. If you watch the good work the staff at SVRSS has done this week it is a testament to their resolve and caring for students.”
The threat has brought to light the need for possible changes in school access and the division will be looking at the level of admittance at their schools. They will also use this event as a learning tool to assist in the prevention and handling of future incidents.
This wasn’t the first time since the beginning of the school year that RCMP involvement was needed due to a threat to the school.
“Late Tuesday night (Oct 1) the SVRSS principal received notification of a social media post threatening the school from an individual in the Valley,” said Zilkey. “RCMP were notified, they took this individual into custody and parents, students and staff were notified of the situation.
“We debriefed with staff the following day and offered counselling to any students who may need it.”
Zilkey added that, while the RCMP can probably make a better determination, being the experts, he personally does not believe there is any connection between the two incidents.”
The RCMP were contacted but were not able to provide comment prior to press deadline.