No bomb found; Covenant Christian School will be open Wednesday.

January 19, 2016

By Rob Alway, Editor-in-Chief.

AMBER TOWNSHIP — Mason County Sheriff Kim Cole has given the all clear at Covenant Christian School. The school received a bomb threat about noon today. At 4:57 p.m. the school texted its staff and parents stating the sheriff had declared the school safe and that school is scheduled to resume Wednesday, Jan. 20.

A bomb detection squad from Michigan State Police was called to investigate and found no evidence of a bomb.

The incident was stressful for parents, but several said they were impressed by the quick response of school personnel and emergency responders.

“Of course my immediate reaction to hearing of a threat to my kids’ school was one of concern for my kids’ safety and everyone involved,” said Tracey Chapman. “When I arrived at Mason County Reformed Church to pick up my kids I was impressed to see that there were many county officers on site assisting and providing any protection/security that might be necessary. Staff and board members were assisting parents with signing out their children so that everyone was accounted for and safe.

“Despite what could obviously be nerve-wracking circumstances, I was impressed with how calm everyone was and how smoothly and appropriately it was handled,” Chapman said. “It’s evident that the great effort our community of police/sheriff, schools, and parents have put forth to ensure the safety of our kids worked today.  Situations like this have to be prepared for and yet we always hope that we never have to utilize the training. We tested that protocol today and as a parent and a board member I’m incredibly thankful that our school and sheriff’s department took the threat seriously and got all the kids to safety.”

Lena Bluestein is a teacher at the school and also a parent of two children who attend it.

“I was walking down to the lunchroom, the kids were on recess, and the school administrator intercepted us teachers in the hallway,” Bluestein said. “We were informed they had just received a threat that they were hoping was a prank but they were right then calling it in to the police. Within minutes we were fully evacuated. Luckily the kids were on recess because that meant they had their coats and winter things on. It was incredibly impressive how quickly so many police arrived.

“The three buses also arrived within minutes from the West Shore Educational Service District, located just a mile away. As a teacher I was able to be there with my kids, so I had them take a good hard look at how serious something like this could be. The school has set up an excellent emergency communication to quickly get the word out to parents. We were receiving any new information and it was very clear what families needed to do. Of course you still feel the stress of it and my stomach hurts just thinking about how awful something like this could have been. But hopefully they clear the school real soon and are able to trace where the threat came from.”

Shelli Coffin had picked up her son, a pre-schooler, just before the threat was called in.

“I was pleased how quickly CCS communicated to the parents, via text, about the situation,” Coffin said. “We, as parents have been receiving updates from the school throughout the day.  I was curious as to what type of threat, and how the kids were going to be transported quickly, etc. So many things go through your mind. However, I knew that the staff was under a lot of urgency to just be sure everyone was out of the school and safe.

  “After receiving texts from friends, that they had heard the news, I then found Mason County Press and other media had already posted the incident online. I was grateful and relieved to have real time, multiple updates via both media posts.

“Most importantly, it appears that the school staff, school board, sheriff’s department and everyone involved, followed the proper steps, to engage the proper authorities, to investigate the threat and to get everyone to safety in a timely fashion.  Based on the texts from CCS, the Sheriff’s department and other authorities who have been called in, continue to investigate the incident, before giving an all clear.”

It’s a shame that we  have to deal with a situation like the one that was placed in front of us today,” said parent John Bailey. “As a parent with children that attend Covenant Christian School, I couldn’t be happier and more satisfied with the way that the communication was given to us and how promptly and organized the handling and safety of our children was placed as a priority by the CCS staff and the Mason County Sheriff’s Department. As a member of the community, it is unbelievable how well everyone worked together. A big thank you to the staff, the sheriff’s deputies, the Michigan State Police, the first responders, the firefighters, and the ESD  administration and drivers. If this event would have been an actual explosion, it is more than comforting to know that our community comes together for our children.”

Sheriff Cole said the incident was still under investigation. About the same time, several other schools in the Midwest and Northeast had received threats, according to national news sources. Cole said his department had not made a connection with those threats. Many of those threats were made via phone while CCS’s threat was made via email.

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