The social media posts that resulted in Sooke’s Edward Milne Community School declaring a hold and secure Nov. 7 is still under investigation, RCMP say.
A suspect linked to the incident was arrested and later released. No charges were laid.
“Everyone should know that we take school threats very seriously and, through an abundance of caution, we will always act to ensure the safety of students, staff and others,” Cpl. Chris Manseau said.
And even though the perceived threat may turn out to be nothing, Manseau said anyone who has observed something that may represent a threat to a school should contact police immediately.
“Let us know and we’ll investigate and act appropriately,” Manseau said.
Unfortunately, the frequency of perceived threats against schools appears to be on the rise.
In May, a shooting threat scrawled on a bathroom mirror and subsequent social media posts in Terrace, B.C. had teachers at Skeena Middle School complaining of what they saw as an inappropriate response by their school board when RCMP were not immediately called.
In June, two men were arrested in Surrey when they were seen as a threat to Lord Tweedsmuir Secondary School, which was also placed in a hold and secure status. The firearms they had were Air-Soft pistols.
“Times have changed and school shootings such as [Columbine High School massacre] showed that information was available but never coalesced into providing the necessary warnings,” Scott Stinson, Sooke School District superintendent, said.
“The school system has had to adapt to be able to assess the validity of threats. We have staff who work closely with RCMP and a lot happens behind the scenes that doesn’t result in a lockdown or hold and secure.”
Stinson said it’s unfortunate that the world has reached this state of affairs, but added the school district is determined to ensure that its schools remain a safe and welcoming space for students.
“We already lock all the doors of elementary schools except the front door so we can keep track of who is coming into the school,” Stinson said.
“But we’re a long way from the American system of totally locked schools, metal detectors, and security on site. I hope we never get to that point.”
Lockdown vs. hold and release
A hold and secure occurs when there’s a threat in the general vicinity of a school, but not on, or very close to school property.
A lockdown is a more extreme procedure, when a threat is near or inside a school.