Terrace RCMP squadron cars monitored Skeena Middle School grounds after threats were made last May. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Terrace RCMP squadron cars monitored Skeena Middle School grounds after threats were made last May. (Brittany Gervais photo)

Teachers last to know of school threats

District’s response to Terrace and Kitimat threats last May in need of review, says teachers’ union

A Terrace BC Teachers Federation (BCTF) union president wants Coast Mountains School District to review its emergency response procedures to make sure teachers are notified about potential violent threats in a timely manner.

Concerning messages were reported on four days between May 7 to May 13 by both Skeena Middle School and Mount Elizabeth Middle Secondary School.

Officials were alerted to the initial incident at Skeena Middle School on May 7, when a shooting threat was written on the boys’ washroom mirror. This prompted the school and CMSD to contact the RCMP and Safer Schools Together (SST) — the school district’s provincial student safety experts.

Then on May 10, school district officials were told of another threatening message sent on social media in connection to Skeena Middle School.

READ MORE: School shooting threats in Terrace and Kitimat — here’s what we know

However, teachers and the union were the last to know about the final threat made at Skeena Middle School, local BCTF president Mike Wen says. Instead of notifying teachers and union representatives directly, the school district issued a public notice on their website as an update.

“It’s not good enough to just put a notice on the district website for all to see, teachers need to be a part of the information loop as well,” he says.

Currently, the district has a multidisciplinary violence threat risk assessment process which involves police and other key community partners.

But instead of adhering to that process, the school district notified parents before teachers, resulting in additional stress and confusion for staff.

There was also a brief delay in accessing mental health and wellness supports and resources for teachers through the union because the information they had was unverified, Wen says.

“A lot of teachers were more affected by the threats of violence than one would like because it’s the extra stress, of the added burden of what could be happening at the school; it’s the worry for the students and the worry for their principals who have to be on point in these situations.”

READ MORE: Skeena Middle School threats deemed ‘low-risk’

Soon after the risks were mitigated, Wen says he met with district superintendent Katherine McIntosh and senior administrators to talk about communication.

He says in a formal meeting McIntosh listened with concern and understood the importance of notifying teachers as soon as RCMP and Safe Schools started dealing with potential threats.

“If all we have to do is work on rumour then what you‘re going to get is the most extreme reaction…implying that teachers would refuse unsafe work and you’d have to deal with it that way.”

He says there is room for improvement when it comes to how the district communicated these threats to teachers in both Terrace and Kitimat.

“Like any sort of disaster preparedness plan, it’s always sitting someplace, you never use it until you really have to — and they really had to in this circumstance. There were bugs in it, things weren’t perfect,” Wen says.

“They really need to do a good debrief on the district level and look at what worked and what they could improve, and improvements include communication with the teachers and the union.”

When asked for comment about a potential review, McIntosh referred to a letter issued to parents back in January, which says once an initial response team is activated, interviews may be held with students, parents and staff to determine the level of risk and develop a response.


 


brittany@terracestandard.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Coast Mountains School District 82

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Helping Hands of Terrace sorting facility was completed in November 2020. Phase two added a second shipping container and a roof, meaning that multiple people can sort recyclables at one time. (Ben Bogstie/Terrace Standard)
VIDEO: Inside Helping Hands of Terrace’s sorting facility

Phase two of the facility was completed late last year

Kitselas Administration office. (Kitselas First Nation website photo)
Kitselas First Nation candidates announced for June 10 election

Over three dozen candidates vying for position of one chief councillor and six council members

“Skeena,” by John Hudson and Paul Hanslow is one of five fonts in the running to become the default for Microsoft systems and Office programs. (Black Press Media File Photo)
Font named after Skeena River could become the next Microsoft default

One of the five new fonts will replace Calibri, which has been Microsoft’s default since 2007

The road to Telegraph Creek (Hwy 51) was closed April 15 due to a washout. On May 4, the road was opened to light-duty passenger vehicles during specific times. (BC Transportation and Infrastructure/Facebook)
Telegraph Creek Road opens for light-duty vehicles

Road has been closed since April 15 due to a washout

Crew works on the Howe Creek Trail broad walk near the northeast corner of Christy Park.
Howe Creek Trail repair work under progress

Residents asked to avoid using trail near the northeast corner of Christy Park

Jose Marchand prepares Pfizer COVID-19 vaccination doses at a mobile clinic for members of First Nations and their partners, in Montreal, Friday, April 30, 2021. The National Advisory Committee on Immunization is coming under fire after contradicting the advice Canadians have been receiving for weeks to take the first vaccine against COVID-19 that they’re offered. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz
Trudeau says he is glad he got AstraZeneca, vaccines are only way out of pandemic

‘The most important thing is to get vaccinated with the first vaccine offered to you’

Solar panels on a parking garage at the University of B.C. will be used to separate water into oxygen and hydrogen, the latter captured to supply a vehicle filling station. (UBC video)
UBC parkade project to use solar energy for hydrogen vehicles

Demonstration project gets $5.6M in low-carbon fuel credits

FILE – A student arrives at school as teachers dressed in red participate in a solidarity march to raise awareness about cases of COVID-19 at Ecole Woodward Hill Elementary School, in Surrey, B.C., on Tuesday, February 23, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. ‘should be able to’ offer 1st dose of COVID vaccine to kids 12+ by end of June: Henry

Health Canada authorized the vaccine for younger teens this morning

A woman in the Harrison Mills area was attacked by a cougar on Tuesday, May 4. B.C. Conservation Officers killed two male cougars in the area; the attack was determined to be predatory in nature. (File photo)
2 cougars killed following attack on woman in Agassiz area

Attack victim remains in hospital in stable condition

A woman wears a face mask and shield to curb the spread of COVID-19 while walking in North Vancouver, B.C., on Wednesday, January 6, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck
B.C. CDC updates info, acknowledging small respiratory droplets can spread COVID-19

Large droplets, not aerosols had been fixture of public health messaging for many months

A picture of Shirley Ann Soosay was rendered from a postmortem photographer and circulated on social media. (DDP graphic)
B.C. genealogist key to naming murder victim in decades-old California cold case

In July 1980, Shirley Ann Soosay was raped and stabbed to death

Mary Kitagawa was born on Salt Spring Island and was seven years old when she was interned along with 22,000 B.C. residents in 1942. (B.C. government video)
B.C. funds health services for survivors of Japanese internment

Seniors describe legacy of World War II displacement

Meghan Gilley, a 35-year-old emergency room doctor and new mom was vaccinated from COVID-19 in January, while she was pregnant. She’s encouraging others to do the same. (Submitted)
‘The best decision’: B.C. mom encourages other pregnant women to get COVID-19 shot

Meghan Gilley, 35, delivered a healthy baby after being vaccinated against the virus while pregnant

Most Read