The Ministry of Education (MoE) has assured that all students at several schools across Trinidad which received emailed bomb threats were evacuated. The Trinidad and Tobago Police Service (TTPS) and the Trinidad and Tobago Fire Service (TTFS) were informed, and present on the campuses of several of the schools. Fifty-five schools received email threats.
An emailed threat, sent on the morning of April 28, indicated the presence of an explosive device in the schools, and subsequent violence after detonation. The threat forced the suspension of several classes, as students were led to muster points.
According to early information received by the Catholic News, an email was sent to Presentation College, Chaguanas, alerting of the bomb. Later information revealed the dissemination of the email to a larger number of schools. Six out of seven diocesan RC secondary schools with oversight by the Catholic Education Board of Management (CEBM) received emails.
The email sent was written in all capitals and uses the plural “we”. It states: “EXPLOSIVES ARE PLANTED ON THE TERRITORY OF THE BUILDING/WE’VE ALWAYS DREAMED OF REVENGE/WE’VE ALWAYS BEEN IN AN EMPTY PLACE/WE WILL TAKE REVENGE ON YOU ALL/AFTER THE EXPLOSION WE WILL COME TO YOU WITH WEAPON/ WE WILL KILL EVERYONE/NO ONE WILL BE LEFT ALIVE/TRINIDAD WILL BLEED/WE’LL CORNER YOU IN YOUR HOUSE/IN THE NEXT WORLD, ONLY BOILING AWAITS YOU/SOON, VERY SOON, A SEA OF BLOOD WILL BE SPILLED”.
The threat was reported to the School Supervisor and Director of Schools’ Supervision, and the police were subsequently contacted. Presentation College students were evacuated to the nearby field, and the police and bomb squad, and the TTFS visited the school to conduct checks, accompanied by the principal. The school was dismissed.
The school’s graduation ceremony planned for this afternoon had to be postponed.
Presentation College, San Fernando was unaware of the threat made as the email went to its junk mail. The school was notified, and the children evacuated.
Chief Executive Officer of the CEBM Sharon Mangroo said the first concern is the students and their safety.
“It is a very unfortunate disruption to the children’s education,” she said. Mangroo was impressed with the prompt action taken by the MoE and TTPS to manage the situation.
Students are presently doing exams and Mangroo stated that prior to today’s event, heavy rainfall early this week had affected implementation of practical components of subjects.
Students of Holy Name Convent, Port of Spain were evacuated to the nearby Memorial Park and officers of the tactical squad were at the school. Parents were assured their children were safe and being supervised by their teachers. In a subsequent update to parents, the school notified the Education Ministry’s permission to dismiss classes early.
The MoE via release strongly condemned the “the reckless actions, which destabilise our nation’s schools and interrupt the education of our students. Anyone with relevant information is asked to contact the TTPS forthwith.”
According to the release, the Ministry was informed of bomb threats emailed to several schools at about 8 a.m. today. In all cases students were evacuated. “Principals were advised to apprise parents of the circumstances, and to keep them updated on developments,” the release stated.
The Ministry, with the National Security, the TTPS and the TTFS are working closely to resolve the situation.
Schools in Tobago also were affected and the Tobago House of Assembly’s Division of Education, Research and Technology also condemned the bomb threat as “reckless action”.
The Division was notified of bomb threats about 9 a.m. Schools were dismissed and parents contacted.
In a media release the Division stated all Tobago secondary schools were dismissed. The relevant State agencies, including the Tobago Police Service (TTPS), T&T Fire Services, and the Tobago Emergency Management Authority (TEMA) launched investigations.
According to Minister of Education Dr Nyan Gadsby-Dolly eight schools in Tobago received threats. At a media briefing at the Ministry head office today, Gadsby-Dolly, said while 55 schools were initially known to receive emails, this number could change. “Quite a number of the threats came in were blocked by the spam. It went into the junk folder and so some schools are only now seeing
that they did actually received threats.” She disclosed 52 emails were blocked. The Central and North Eastern Divisions of the TTPS got threats about schools in their area. Schools in these areas were dismissed. There are 82 schools in Central and 57 in the North Eastern Division. Gadsby-Dolly said, “This is the start of examinations, there are schools having oral examinations, 15 schools today, and some of them would have been affected”.
She said efforts were made to keep parents informed and not panicking. Protocol was followed and she thanked principals and teachers for ensuring the safety of children was paramount.
Gadsby-Dolly appealed on behalf of the nation’s children to the person/s involved, “to understand the repercussions of destabilising our education system has on our children.” She said she too had a child out of school as well as Minister Lisa Morris-Julian and many others. “This affects us all; it takes a village to raise a child and we have to be more mindful of the effects of our actions on our children. So, I would just really in the strongest way condemn what happened today and I would appeal to those involved to not do this again to our children.”