All Prince Edward Island schools evacuated, university and college shut, after RCMP gets bomb threat

— Officials on Prince Edward scrambled to evacuate more than 19,000 students from every school in the province Wednesday after police received a fax from someone threatening to detonate bombs at schools.

RCMP spokesman Sgt. Kevin Baillie said the fax was sent to Ottawa RCMP Wednesday morning, and that schools were notified within 10 minutes.

“There’s been no threat found. Everybody is safe,” Baillie told reporters at a noon news conference, adding that the threat suggested bombs had been planted at several schools and would be set off Wednesday.

In Ottawa, Prime Minister Justin told a news conference: “As a parent, I know how worrisome this type of situation can be, and I know that the affected parents must be having a difficult day.

“We continue to monitor the situation closely, and I can assure you, that both the RCMP and all local authorities are deploying all necessary resources to this ongoing operation.” Trudeau said.

Staff and students poured out of more than 60 English and French public schools, some younger children crying as they ran from their school to designated safe locations, where they were met by buses and parents.

The RCMP said schools activated their emergency evacuation plans soon after they became aware of the evolving situation. However, bomb personnel and canine units were not sent to the schools and police were teachers to be on the lookout for anything suspicious in the .

“Officers have gone to every school and consulted with staff, but we’re asking the staff to check the schools and see if they note anything out of place or suspicious,” he said.

At Montague Regional High School, several students and parents told the Charlottetown Guardian that they were told to leave the school, but not given a reason.

“We were told to get off school property as soon as possible. Most people who had their (car) keys couldn’t even go to their cars,” student Paige Collicutt told the Guardian.

“They didn’t tell us anything,” Abby Miller, a student at Belfast Consolidated School, told the newspaper.

“They just said get out of the school, her mother Lori told the Guardian.

Baillie said police were looking at the possibility the fax is connected to threats against three schools in Nova Scotia. NSCC Marconi Campus, Cape Breton and the NSCC technology campus in Halifax have also been due to potential threats. Police said they did not have any suspects, but were trying to trace the fax.

Police in Winnipeg said a similar fax was received by the Winnipeg , although no schools were evacuated.

Winnipeg Police Service spokesman Const. Rob said the division received a fax at 8:30 a.m. Wednesday that contained a threat to all of the division’s 78 schools.

Carver said police have been following the situation in P.E.I. and Nova Scotia.

“Based on the similarities between the nature of our threat and the ones on the coast, we were leaning to the conclusion that the threat here was unfounded,” said Carver.

“We deployed resources both to the school division head offices as well as schools to make sure that students and staff were not at any risk, but we have not evacuated schools in Winnipeg.”

In P.E.I., police said parents were asked to wait for further instructions to pick up their children once the facilities are cleared under their safe plan procedures.

The Island’s post-secondary institutions have shut as well.

“The University of Prince Edward Island is closing for the day effective ,” it said on Facebook Wednesday morning.

At Holland College in Charlottetown, one student said a woman burst into the classroom to tell everyone to pick up their books and evacuate immediately, and that school officials would advise if it’s safe to return at a later time.

Outside, everyone was in a panic and helicopters were flying overhead, the student said.

Parker Grimmer, director of public schools for the Island’s board, says police contacted the board Wednesday morning about “a threat that was of a significant nature” and asked for the evacuation of all schools.

About The Canadian Press