Ryan Scott Ottney
PDT Staff Writer
Wheelersburg Superintendent Mark Knapp said he was very pleased with the school’s immediate response to a bomb threat received Wednesday morning. The school’s response plan for such an emergency was developed by the school safety committee and when put to the test Wednesday, Knapp said it all worked perfectly.
No bomb was found inside the building, and students were back to school on Thursday.
“I was very happy with the way students and staff responded. We have practiced this and everyone reacted quietly and calmly and evacuated to their safe sites, and I felt like that part of it all went very smoothly. We’re very appreciative of the cooperation and patience of everybody,” Knapp said.
According to Knapp, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office received a call at about 10:15 a.m. on Wednesday warning there was a bomb in the school and it would explode in two hours and 45 minutes. The school was immediately notified and administrators did a visual sweep of the building and found nothing. After meeting with law enforcement officials, the school decided at about 11:30 a.m. to evacuate students to a safe location. Grades Pre-K through 5 went to one location, and grades 6-12 went to another.
Meanwhile, school staff and administrators searched the building again and found nothing.
“We were checking for anything out of the ordinary. For instance, looking for a door that was open that is normally locked and making sure that we checked all of the public places like restrooms,” Knapp said. “There was no indication of any problems or issues.”
Hearing about the threat, some parents chose to take their child home. At about 1 p.m., Knapp said the school notified parents through its emergency contact system that school would be dismissed one-hour early and students would be sent home.
“I am so very proud of the staff and the students. They did a wonderful job and they were extremely patient. They just knew that they were safe and that they were fine, and they just waited for further instructions,” Knapp said.
The Ohio State Highway Patrol canine unit and the Division of Fire responded from Columbus and searched the building again, and still found nothing inside. Knapp said he was finally given the all-clear at about 5 p.m.
“We sent an all-clear message to staff and high school students who wanted to return to the building to pick up their belongings. There were staff members present in the building late last in the evening (Wednesday) helping parents and students pick up belongings,” Knapp said.
The superintendent thanked parents, students and staff, the Porter Township emergency responders, the Scioto County Sheriff’s Office and the Ohio State Highway Patrol. Students and staff returned to school Thursday morning and Knapp said everything was getting back to normal.
“Everybody seemed in good spirits and we all decided we were going to have a great day,” he said.
Ryan Scott Ottney can be reached at 740-353-3101, ext. 287, or firstname.lastname@example.org.