Several schools in the area received bomb threats Friday morning
LOWNDES COUNTY, Miss. (WCBI) – It was just a normal Friday at schools in Columbus and Lowndes County, but early morning bomb threats changed the entire day.
Students and teachers at Columbus High, New Hope Middle, and West Lowndes High school were evacuated from classes this morning.
Aaliyah Porter, a 7th grader at West Lowndes, was in her second-period class. She talked about being put on a bus and taken off campus.
Safe but afraid.
“It was scary. I was really scared I thought that we were going to die,” said Porter.
After receiving the bomb threats, schools were instructed to do was follow protocol.
Lowndes County Superintendent Sam Allison said the most important thing was to get students and staff members to a safe place.
“As soon as the calls were made they put into the protocol or rather put into place the protocols they had which were to evacuate the buildings and from there it, ‘okay, where is the safest place we can go’,” said Allison.
Because of the cold temperatures, school leaders didn’t want to use their regular safe place – the football field.
Instead, the decision was made to take New Hope Middle school students to the high school.
Columbus students were moved to a nearby church, and West Lowndes students were transported to the old middle school.
Allison wanted to ensure their safety in case there was a threat to the elementary.
Allison said the importance of protecting his students and staff members is the top priority, as is devising a plan to keep them safe.
“We didn’t know how widespread this would be. Two of our 10 schools had received a threat by 9 0’clock so we were trying to be proactive in our thoughts,” said Allison.
Bomb dogs from the sheriff’s office and the airforce base were used to sniff out the schools.
While all schools were cleared, Lowndes County Sheriff Eddie Hawkins said this is no joke.
“We take the threats very seriously. This is a felony to call in a threat like this if it’s a hoax and we can identify who the hoaxer is we could prosecute them and the fine is a 10-year sentence in prison and 10,000 dollars in fines,” said Hawkins.
Every school practices crisis management drills throughout the year.
Allison says that it took everyone working together to have the outcome they did.
He said they will continue to review today’s procedures.
“Now that we have had this happen today we will come together next week and we will talk about things that went well and things we could do better. I think another thing that we do is try to communicate,” said Allison.
The superintendent is grateful for how fast the sheriff’s department reacted to the situation and that all students and faculty are safe.