“Crowe is as safe today as it was yesterday.”
Those words of calm came from Superintendent Bill Ford early Tuesday for parents with children in School District 20 following a scary situation after school hours on Monday.
It all started when a student, very new to the district, posted a photo of a fake handgun and a questionable comment on social media.
“In this particular incident we had a young student, who’s only been with us for six weeks, post a picture of a replica handgun on Instagram,” Ford told the Times. “And then there was a caption underneath that was of concern.”
From there, social media blew up. Understandably, the picture and words caused much concern for parents.
“As soon as that was reported, the VTRA processes and all the protocols connected to the process were initiated and implemented,” Ford explained.
VTRA (Violence Threat Risk Assessment) is used in all 60 school districts across the province and involves a number of agencies.
“This happened after school,” he continued. “So throughout last evening, school district personnel and other agencies, for example, the RCMP, come into the VTRA when required.”
He says the Trail RCMP were immediately brought into the loop.
“The RCMP have confirmed that the student does not have access to firearms,” Ford said.
“As well, a new rumour this morning (Tuesday), that there was a ‘hit list’ is not true, again confirmed by the RCMP.”
Unfortunately, social media, which is both a blessing and a curse, has taken a situation that was serious and turned it into something blown out of proportion, Ford stressed.
“We take the safety of our students and staff very seriously, and do our utmost to ensure that safety on a daily basis. We never want to under-react to a serious situation, but we also don’t want to overreact.”
What Ford did point out is that the VTRA system worked.
“Staff have been trained in the protocols and they worked their way through it,” he said. “And it was very effective.”
Some families chose to keep their children home from school Tuesday.
“We can’t predict what will occur tomorrow or next week or next year,” Ford concluded. “But we can say that Crowe is as safe today as it was yesterday.
“It is our hope, though, that all students will return to school as soon as possible in order to finish the school year with courses complete and ready for next year.”