Bomb threats force many schools in West Quebec to close their doors
Published Tuesday, November 3, 2015 8:08AM EST Last Updated Tuesday, November 3, 2015 6:29PM EST
A wave of bomb threats hit schools across Quebec today, forcing the closure of some of them and the evacuation of others. More than a dozen schools in West Quebec were shut down as police searched the buildings. The school day never got started for students at 14 schools in the Outaouais, including sites in Gatineau, Hull, Aylmer, Buckingham, and Wakefield.
The threats came by email overnight, affecting dozens of schools across the province.
At South Hull Elementary school in the Aylmer sector of Gatineau, it was an eerie sight to see at noon hour not a student in sight.
That's because students like 8 –year-old Francis Quinn were sent home.
‘The principal said there was a bomb threat,’ says Quinn, who was with his mother, grabbing a bus outside the school, ‘Did that scare you?’ asks the reporter. ‘Yes,’ he says and nods emphatically.
South Hull Elementary school was one of more than a dozen schools in West Quebec closed today for ‘safety reasons’ according to the West Quebec School Board.
‘We took them seriously, so we closed as many as we could as soon as we were made aware,’ says Ruth Ahern, with the Western Québec School Board, ‘and we advised police who came and started to clear our buildings to make sure they were safe and that there were no bomb in the buildings.’
It wasn't just schools in West Quebec that were targeted. The Sureté du Québec says about 60 schools throughout the province were implicated in these bomb threats.
Quebec's premier called it a ‘disgusting, cowardly act.’ The interim Public Safety Minister said the email was from a so-called ‘coalition’ claiming bombs would be placed in schools and on buses over issues with how teachers in Quebec and Ontario were dealing with students.
‘‘They describe themself as a coalition,’ Pierre Moreau told reporters, ‘but this group is not known to police therefore police will make inquiry now as to what this group is.’
Parents are furious. This is the latest in a string of bomb threats in recent days in both Outaouais and Ottawa. Julia Franklin has two children attending Pierre Elliott Trudeau Elementary School.
‘Whoever is doing this,’ says Franklin, ‘don't target the schools. It makes the kids feel unsafe, it makes the parents feel unsafe sending them to school.’
Franklin says she only learned of the school closures on Twitter, after waiting for a bus that never came with her children outside her apartment this morning.
‘It’s a bit disappointing,’ says Skye Cameron, who has a child at South Hull Elementary School, ‘I understand everyone is frustrated, the parents and the teachers but this is carrying things too far.’
It was disappointing, too, for students, who have lost yet another day of school.
‘I had a math test and I studied all night,’ says Grade 5 student Lucas Jolicoeur, ‘and I used up all my play time and now I can't go to school.’
Some students are off again tomorrow in West Quebec as support staff take part in labor action. Then, Monday and Tuesday, schools are closed again for labor action involving teachers.