Breaking News: MHS Evacuates After Social Media Threat

November 17, 2022

Students who arrived to school in the form of bus transportation evacuated to the school’s football stadium awaiting their transportation home. (Media by Pranav Sriraman)

After learning of a social media threat, RSD and MHS administration evacuated and dismissed students and faculty at about 12:45 p.m. Thursday afternoon.

High school students who rode on buses to school were immediately evacuated to the school’s football field while students who arrived by car transportation were free to leave upon dismissal. Students within the school’s Early Childhood program were taken to Kehrs Mill Elementary to be picked up by their parents.

Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain said the decision to evacuate was in the best interest of keeping student and staff safety a top priority.

Superintendent Dr. Curtis Cain advises students Malik Johnson, Douglas Clark, and Jox Levison on evacuation procedures after the school day was promptly ended as a result of a social media threat. (Media by Elliott Jorgensen)

“The Chesterfield Police Department has done an amazing job,” Dr. Cain said. “They’ve been here step-by-step along the way. Before I even arrived on the campus, they were already here, integral to us figuring out what in fact was going on and what steps needed to occur.”

Rishabh Sabnavis, senior, was in the middle of statistics class when Principal Dr. Steve Hankins called for evacuation. Sabnavis was aware police officers and detectives were in the building, but didn’t know of the reason behind their arrival.

“I’m in shock,” Sabnavis said. “You would never expect this to happen.”

Rohan Navqi, junior, was in his graphic design class when the intercom went off announcing the end of the school day.

Police officers from Chesterfield, Saint Louis County, Clarkson Valley and Wildwood were at the scene of the evacuation at MHS. (Media by Aubrey Lacavich)

“I got scared,” Navqi said. “Someone told me there was a bomb threat and we had to get out really fast.”

Police officers from Chesterfield Police Department were at the scene inside the building, on the outdoor campus and on the surrounding Clarkson and Kehrs Mill Roads.

Local police and RSD are still investigating the situation.

Updated at 6 p.m. on Nov 17

At 5 p.m., Principal Stephen Hankins sent a message to students, staff and parents. It stated the following.

“I want to first thank you for your patience and understanding during the evacuation and early dismissal this afternoon. We take the safety of all of our students and staff very seriously.

Here are some additional details about what led to our decision to evacuate and dismiss early today. During lunch, a student reported receiving a message that was AirDropped to their phone indicating that there was a potential threat to our school. Specifically, it was a photo of an avatar on a social media account indicating an unidentified individual was going to “bomb the school at 1:30 today.” Our district safety officer and the Chesterfield Police were immediately notified and began an investigation. It was quickly determined that the safest course of action would be to evacuate the building. Knowing the search would take some time given the size of our building and taking the outdoor temperature into consideration, in conjunction with law enforcement we decided to dismiss early following the evacuation.

Since dismissal, police have been on campus investigating and working to clear the building with bomb-sniffing canines. Nothing was found, and they have just given us the “all clear,” which means we will be having school tomorrow. We are confident that there is no credible threat to our school, and we are looking forward to resuming our regular school day tomorrow. Out of an abundance of caution, we will have an additional police presence on campus throughout the day tomorrow.

I want to thank our staff, our district safety officer and the Chesterfield Police for their prompt response and thorough search of our building. They responded quickly and calmly and worked closely with us as we put our emergency procedures into action. Our staff did a great job helping students remain calm and dismissing in an orderly way. I also want to thank students and parents for their cooperation and patience.

As we continue the investigation as to the origin of the message, please talk with your children about the seriousness of making any kind of threat. Rockwood and law enforcement officials take anything that could be deemed as a threat very seriously, and we will always take appropriate action to ensure the safety of our students and staff. Students who make threats like these could face criminal charges and will face disciplinary action in accordance with our district’s Student Discipline and Consequences.

We continue to encourage our students to share any concerns they have with staff, parents or another trusted adult. That is exactly what happened today, and we are grateful to the student who came forward with their concerns. After school hours, safety concerns can be directed to police or by dialing 911 in an emergency. Additionally, safety concerns can be reported 24 hours a day, seven days a week through Courage2Report.

Our counseling staff is available to any student who would like help processing today’s events. If your child needs support, please encourage them to reach out to their counselor or a trusted adult.

Thank you again for your cooperation, understanding and support today. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to us.”

(This story will be updated as more information is available).

Updated on Nov 20

MHS has announced Monday, Nov. 21

and Tuesday, Nov. 22, to be virtual due to concern for student and staff emotional well-being. Admin intends to be working with law enforcement during this time to identify the individual responsible for Friday’s threat.

In a letter to the school community, Principal Dr. Steve Hankins wrote, “Our hope is that this will give everyone time to heal and prepare to return to school after the Thanksgiving break. It is hard to be thankful during times such as these; however, there is so much to be thankful for. We have a strong and resilient school community. Our students, staff, families, district leadership and first responders are incredible and supportive. Most importantly, everyone is safe, unharmed and with their loved ones.”

There will be no Zoom lessons this week as teachers will be communicating through Canvas, Gmail or Student Square. All assignments will be due after Thanksgiving break. The building will still be open to conduct practices.

In-person school will restart Monday, Nov. 28.

Counselors will be available for students virtually or in-person on Monday and Tuesday.

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