Kennett school evacuated after bomb threat

600 students and faculty displaced while authorities searched building

By Mike McGann, Editor, The Times


Greenwood Elementary School students return to the building Friday, as State Police and other law enforcement officials look on, after a bomb threat led to the evacuation of the building, Friday.

KENNETT — Students were evacuated from Greenwood Elementary School Friday morning after a “very specific” note claiming a bomb or explosive material was in the building was found in the faculty bathroom.

No explosive device was found and the building was cleared for reentry before 2 p.m.

Friday’s event was the most recent in a series of bomb threats made against district buildings in the past year, the others at Kennett Middle School in New Garden. Unlike those threats, which appear to have been limited to student bathrooms, this threat was more detailed, law enforcement sources told The Times.

“We consider bomb threats to be very serious,” said Kennett Township Police Chief Albert J. McCarthy, said in a statement issued Friday night. “The safety of our children and our community are our top priority. Thankfully, no explosive devices were located during the search of the Greenwood Elementary School.”

Superintendent of Schools Barry Tomasetti did not respond to a request for comment on the incident.

The threat led to an immediate evacuation of the school at about 10:38 a.m. with all first through fifth grade students — more than 600 — taken from the school, along with all staff. Lunches, water and snacks were brought to the site, as faculty worked to keep the students engaged — some calling it an “extended recess” or “the world’s longest fire drill” so as not to worry the students.

As word began to spread in the community, concerned parents attempted to go to the school, but roadways were closed off by State Police and a safe zone was created as law enforcement officials swept the building for possible threats.

Greenwood Road was closed between Hillendale and U.S.-1 for about three hours on Friday, and on either end, parents gathered seeking information about their children. There was some frustration on the part of parents, unsure what they should do — which in this case, was nothing, as going to scene to get their children wasn’t possible.

While Kennett Township sent a message via email to township residents, some of those parents expressed frustration with the school district’s communication. Some parents contacted The Times, seeking information as the event unfolded, saying they were unclear as to whether they needed to pick up their children, and what was happening. Similar sentiments were expressed by parents who attempted to go to the school and were stopped at the Fire Police barricades.

Meanwhile, the Chester County Sheriff’s Department used bomb trained dogs to perform a sweep of the school grounds, which did not reveal any suspicious devices or materials. The building was cleared and students and staff were allowed to reenter.

In addition to township police, the Sheriff’s Department and State Police, Kennett Square Borough Police, Longwood Fire Department, Longwood EMS, and Kennett Square EMS all responded to the scene and provided support. Fire police from Avondale also helped control traffic and maintain the safe zone.

McCarthy said in his statement, that “for precautionary reasons” there will be extra police patrols of the school during the investigation of the incident continues.

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