As you are aware, Principal Turner at Bedford High School received an emailed bomb threat early this morning. Per our crisis protocol, he informed the school resource officer and me, and I then coordinated with our police and fire chiefs. While in our judgement the threat did not appear to be credible, we decided to evacuate the building as a precautionary measure. Our decision was informed as well by the fact that Bedford, NH was simultaneously experiencing a similar situation.
With the help of our faculty and staff and the excellent behavior of our students, we had a quick and orderly evacuation and relocated everyone to John Glenn Middle School. At the same time, we called on our STARS team members of the Northeast Massachusetts Law Enforcement Council (NEMLEC). STARS is a threat assessment and response team made up of police and school personnel from Bedford and the surrounding municipalities. We also drew on members of the State Police Canine Unit and Hanscom Air Force Base’s Canine Unit. These cooperating team members swept the building’s common areas in search of potential explosives.
Unfortunately, either Channel 7 gave out inaccurate information or some parents misheard Bedford, MA during a broadcast about Bedford, NH closing its middle and high schools, so we had a large number of parents arriving at JGMS to take their children home. Given this occurrence, our understanding that the search could take an extended amount of time, and the fact that it was an early release day, we decided to dismiss both the high school and middle school students starting at 10:00. The bus company was very quick to respond, we sent out an alert message letting parents know, and we screened every middle school student before they got on the bus to make sure that they were ok to go home at that time.
We then met with the middle and high school teachers to inform them in more detail and to thank them for their exceptional professionalism and cooperation. Resilient and resourceful, the middle school staff had kept their students in their classes for two hours since, with all of the high school students in the building, moving to their next classes was impossible. The high school teachers, at STARS’ suggestion, then went back to the school to check their rooms as a last precaution to make sure nothing looked out of place. Finally, the Bedford police, fire, STARS and school administrator gave the all clear.
However, we did cancel after school activities and sports. The high school administration has put a plan into place to keep students’ possessions left behind in classrooms locked and safe and to allow only students who need their keys to retrieve their keys only between 2:00Pm and 4:00PM. Tomorrow, they will return to the same classrooms that they left when they evacuated.
Our thanks go out to all of the first responders, staff and students who made this a successful response to a potentially dangerous situation.
Fortunately, there were no explosives, and an intensive investigation by various law enforcement agencies, our police department included, is underway. We are aware that students may feel some anxiety tomorrow, and counseling staff will be made available should anyone feel the need to talk.
Bedford Public Schools