Students at all grade levels evacuated over a hoax bomb threat last week.
Students at all grade levels evacuated over a hoax bomb threat last week.
Kerry Naylor

‘Abundance of caution’ exercised during evacuation

On Wednesday, September 20, emails containing bomb threat hoaxes spread to several schools statewide, including Bellwood-Antis. Out of an “abundance of caution” for the safety of BASD students and staff, the administration and security team decided to briefly evacuate all three school buildings in the district.

The security team was notified by the Pennsylvania State Police about hoax emails being spread around on Tuesday, September 19, and contacted all faculty members at B-A later that day.

 Head of Security at B-A, Officer Tim Mercer, recalled, “We then contacted all of our staff and told them about [the emails] and told them to be vigilant and watch their email inboxes.”

Three staff members received the hoax emails on Wednesday morning. However, high school principal, Mr. Richard Schreier, the administration, and the security team were sure that the email was not legitimate. 

We firmly believe that the more transparent we are with our students, the less panic we’re going to have in our schools.

— Officer Tim Mercer

“We were confident that the email threat received at our school [on Wednesday] was not credible,” Mr. Schreier stated. 

Still, the security team made the decision to conduct an “orderly evacuation,” with intent to provide full transparency about the situation. Students from the B-A elementary, middle, and high schools were guided to the bleachers in the football stadium. 

Officer Mercer said, “We made a decision to go to the stadium, and I used the bull horn to tell the students exactly what was going. We firmly believe that the more transparent we are with our students, the less panic we’re going to have in our schools.”

After Officer Mercer spoke with the students, students’ minds were soothed. 

“I didn’t think I was in danger at any moment because we got out of the school fairly quickly, and security communicated what was going on,” voiced senior, Corry Shanafelt.

When students were seated outside, a sweep of the buildings was conducted by security personnel to be extra cautious. There were no major concerns due to the buildings being in order and clean camera footage from the previous days.

The hoax emails can be compared to the swatting calls that took place last school year, as both were delivered to numerous schools in the area, and were “not valid threats”.

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