There are two words that a parent never wants to hear associated with their child's school: bomb threat. Unfortunately that was reality for parents of Camdenton High School students on Tuesday.
Camdenton Police Department received a call from an alleged parent saying that their student said a bomb would go off at noon. The high school was evacuated and law enforcement searched the school for a bomb. Nothing suspicious was found and students returned to classes later that afternoon.
Every time a potential crisis hits a school district, it allows that district to take a look at their current plans and see if they are working. "Overall I thought our staff and students responded remarkably well," Superintendent Tim Hadfield said. "I was very satisfied with the response."
Hadfield could not name specific actions that the school would do differently in the future, but said, "Each situation is unique and our safety plan has flexibility in it. We want to respond appropriately in fluid situations." Ironically, the quarterly school safety meeting with school officials and public safety entities met on Wednesday. No specific adjustments were made to the school's plan according to Hadfield, but a committee will examine the school's efforts during the evacuation and evaluate them in a future meeting.
When an emergency arises in a community like Camdenton, other communities and school districts look to them to see how they handle it. Every school has its own emergency preparedness plan in place in case a crisis, like what Camdenton experienced Tuesday, happens to them.
According to Macks Creek Superintendent Josh Phillips, plans are outlined and disseminated throughout the school and kept near telephones. If a bomb threat is called in, staff have a checklist to record about the phone call. The checklist includes the wording used in the threat, questions to ask the caller, voice quality of the caller, background sounds and general information such as race and gender. After taking the call, the staff member would immediately report the call to administration. Each staff member plays a separate role in this situation. The administration would quickly determine if evacuation is necessary and would use the fire evacuation plan to exit the building. Students would either be bussed or walked to an undisclosed location while Camden County Sheriff's Department and local fire protection districts investigated the situation further.
Phillips said that the teachers are briefed on the school's preparedness plans often. "The more you talk about it and the more you get them to visualize, it's less likely they will panic," he said. Students also participate in drills so that if such a situation was to ever arise, they would be less likely to be frightened to leave the building.
Just like parents of Camdenton students were notified on Tuesday, Macks Creek can notify parents quickly as well via a phone call or a text message.
Page 2 of 2 - School of the Osage also has emergency plans, but chose not to reveal any details to the Lake Sun saying all their plans were confidential. "It all depends on the situation," said one school official.
Morgan County R-II School District has extensive plans in place for all types of emergency situations, according to Superintendent Dr. Joyce Ryerson.
The comprehensive plan document is more than an inch thick running the gamut from a bomb threat to natural disasters and medical emergencies. The plan was updated about a year ago, but the details are not made public to protect the safety of evacuation routes and sites, Ryerson says.
While they do drill on some contingencies, generally the staff trains through round table discussions.
The Versailles school has faced a bomb threat before, the last one being several years ago.
A phone call to Eldon about their emergency preparedness plan went unanswered.