Panic, fear, then relief

For a little more than an hour last week, visions of Columbine, of Newtown, Rocori and Red Lake were swirling around New Prague.

After a student made a 911 call saying there had been a shooting at New Prague Middle School, hours of preparation and training kicked in for the community’s law enforcement and educational professionals. “We prepare for the worst,” one school administrator said in the days after what turned out to be a false report.

The fact that this was a hoax does not change the very real feelings of fear that struck the community. Parents arrived outside the school, understandably concerned for the safety of their children. The students were never in harm’s way and were sent home for the day.

Law enforcement praised the school’s reactions to the threat. Students practice lockdowns several times during the year and know what they are supposed to do, and for the most part they did it. After the students went home, school officials held debriefing meetings well into the afternoon and plans were made to change a few of the procedures.

Little did they know, they’d have to follow some of those same procedures the next day, after receiving a series of false bomb threats.

The community can be grateful that we have professionals who responded quickly and worked to keep students and staff safe. We can also be grateful that these threats turned out be false. Hopefully, school staff never has to go through one of these for real.