State

Madawaska, other schools go into soft lockdown after threat involving Sen. Collins

MADAWASKA, Maine — The Madawaska Middle High School was on “soft lockdown” Friday morning until they were released at 12:30 p.m. due to a threat made Friday against several schools from Aroostook County to Bangor and Machias.

 

The threat emailed to an Orono business mentioned U.S. Sen. Susan Collins, a Republican who is up for re-election in 2020 and is one of the most-watched senators during the current impeachment proceedings against President Donald Trump. 

Superintendent of Valley Unified Ben Sirois released a letter Friday afternoon to explain the reason for the lockdown and release and inform the parents of the measures taken to ensure the safety of the students. 

Administrators at SAD 1, Easton School Department, SAD 45, SAD 42 and SAD 20 were not on lockdown and did not plan an early release. Ashland District School was the only district not to respond to an attempt for comment. 

In southern Aroostook County, it was business as usual for RSU 29 (Houlton) and SAD 70 (Hodgdon). RSU 29 Superintendent Ellen Halliday said her school was not in any advanced lockdown situation, but was being more vigilant in monitoring people coming to their buildings.

Houlton Middle-High School, like many schools around the state, has doors that are constantly locked with guests needing to push a button to gain access. 

“We are not getting out early,” Halliday said. “Our schools are all locked, as they always are, and we are following a vigilant routine.”

In Hodgdon, Superintendent Steve Fitzpatrick said his district was being extra cautious, even though SAD 70 was not one of the schools named in the initial report.

“Our doors are also always locked, but we are being more cautious,” Fitzpatrick said. “I reiterated to our staff to keep doors and windows locked and shut. And if you don’t know somebody, don’t open the door.” 

Because the threat was lodged around noon, Fitzpatrick said his schools had already come in from any regular outside recess periods. He did check with one of his satellite buildings, located adjacent to the high school, to make sure they were aware of the situation.

Fitzpatrick added there were no plans to dismiss students early.

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