The Ontario Provincial Police (OPP) are investigating multiple bomb threats at schools, school boards, and other facilities across parts of Eastern Ontario and Northern Ontario on Wednesday, November 1.
The OPP emphasized that NO suspicious devices have been found.
Locally, schools under the jurisdiction of the Conseil scolaire de district catholique de l’Est ontarien (CSDCEO) were affected. Town of Hawkesbury Department of Public Works staff blocked the street entrances to École secondaire catholique régionale de Hawkesbury to limit unauthorized access to the building. Public entry was also restricted at École élémentaire catholique St-Grégoire in Vankleek Hill. At École élémentaire catholique St-Jean-Baptiste in L’Orignal, the school was evacuated and parents were notified to pick up their children nearby at Église St-Jean-Baptiste church.
According to a message obtained by The Review, CSDCEO students and staff were instructed to shelter in place while some administrative employees were told to work from home.
Parents wanting to reach their children were told not to contact schools by phone, and to instead ask individuals standing by on school property to find their child.
According to the OPP, the threats targeted multiple schools under multiple school boards and other facilities, demanding payment.
Late on Wednesday afternoon, the CSDCEO announced students were able to return to school and that all of its facilities would be open on Thursday, November 2.
As a precaution many targeted schools and facilities have been closed while the investigation continues. In additional to local officers, the OPP Cybercrime Investigations Team has been engaged.
Meanwhile, the local English public school board, the Upper Canada District School Board (UCDSB), took measures to enhance the safety of students and staff. Local UCDSB schools include Vankleek Hill Collegiate Institute and Pleasant Corners Public School.
All external doors to school buildings were locked, including at secondary schools, and extra attention was paid to those seeking to enter school buildings.
Students were also kept indoors for the remainder of the day, however dismissals and pick-up routines continued as usual.
The Catholic District School Board of Eastern Ontario (CDSBEO), which operates St. Jude Catholic School near Vankleek Hill and St. Finnan’s Catholic School in Alexandria, was not affected by the bomb threat. As a precaution, the CDSBEO did place its schools in a hold and secure situation for about an hour on Wednesday and exterior doors to schools were locked. At no time did the CDSBEO receive a direct threat to any of its schools.
The Conseil des écoles publiques de l’Est de l’Ontario (CÉPEO) issued a statement explaining it was not affected directly by the threats. Local CÉPEO schools include Le Sommet and Nouvel Horizon in Hawkesbury.
The public is encouraged to report any suspicious activity that could be a risk to public safety.
Anyone with information is urged to contact the OPP at 1-888-310-1122 or contact Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).