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Provincial officials confirmed that 20 per cent of students were absent from class at P.E.I. schools on Monday following a report of a possible threat involving a firearm.
This rate of absenteeism is above average and is considered unusual, according to the Department of Education.
On Sunday evening, officials from the RCMP, Charlottetown Police Services and the Department of Education and Lifelong Learning announced that an anonymous tip had been made about a possible threat involving an individual bringing a firearm into a school. The threat, which was received late Friday afternoon, was not specific to any school on P.E.I.
Police have concluded that there was no credible threat to Island schools but have not been able to locate the individual who made the initial tip as of Monday afternoon.
“It appears right now that this may have been the case of someone who is disgruntled or may have made a comment about bringing a firearm to a school and some other person may have heard it,” RCMP Sgt. Kevin Baillie told reporters during a press conference Sunday night.
Since Sunday, police have received further information, said Const. Tim Keizer of the Charlottetown Police.
"There are things that came in to police departments after that, and every one of those things are being looked at on an individual basis," Keizer told The Guardian.
"There's still no credibility to any threat to any school."
Keizer added that the investigation is ongoing.
“We’re doing our best to track down where it did originate from just so we can close the loop,” Keizer said.
On Sunday evening, Bethany MacLeod, deputy minister of education, said schools were safe but also indicated parents needed to know about the threat.
“We feel our schools are safe, and as such they will be open tomorrow,” MacLeod said during the Sunday press conference.
“We respect parents’ right to know about any potential threat to our students’ safety. We felt it was important to get this information out to help parents decide if they want to send their children to school tomorrow.”
An extensive investigation, involving all police agencies in the province, and in consultation with school officials, failed to turn up any information that would suggest that this threat was credible. . . . these types of incidents often results in rumours and false assumptions pic.twitter.com/1povbFChu3— Government of PEI (@InfoPEI) February 23, 2020
Late on Monday, a statement from the Department of Education said schools received calls from parents asking whether to send their children to school.
"All school counsellors were dispatched to schools today. There was a counsellor in almost every school for at least part of the day to support students and staff,” said the statement.
"School staff look forward to having students back (on Tuesday)."
The incident is the first significant threat made involving a P.E.I. school since September 2016, when police received a bomb threat via fax machine. The threat prompted the evacuation of all schools on P.E.I. In all, 19,000 students were evacuated from schools during that incident.
After searches were conducted of schools, police determined the threat was not credible.
Video from Sunday night's press conference:
School related public safety update
Education Deputy Minister Bethany MacLeod, RCMP Sgt. Kevin Bailey RCMP and Tim Kaizer, Charlottetown Police update: Late Friday afternoon (Feb. 21st), law enforcement received an anonymous tip suggesting that an unknown person would bring a firearm to a school. An extensive investigation, involving all police agencies in the province, and in consultation with school officials, failed to turn up any information that would suggest that this threat was credible. Given the fact that investigating these types of incidents often results in rumours and false assumptions, all involved felt that the public should be made aware of the information that was received. All members of the public are reminded that threats of any nature will be fully investigated and subject to prosecution. Schools across the province will be open on Monday.Posted by Prince Edward Island Government on Sunday, February 23, 2020