ATHABASCA – Edwin Parr Composite School in Athabasca was put on hold and secure status last week after a student allegedly attempted to assault another with a weapon.
Athabasca RCMP were called to the local high school the morning of Tuesday, Nov. 22, in response to the incident, which students told the Advocate involved a small, bladed weapon, likely a pocketknife.
“Edwin Parr Composite is currently in a Hold & Secure regarding a police matter. There is no danger to staff or students at this time. Movement in and out of the school is restricted while the Hold & Secure is in place. The Hold & Secure will be lifted once RCMP advise that it is appropriate to do so,” stated a message sent to parents/guardians just after 11 a.m.,
One student messaged the Advocate while the Hold & Secure was in place, saying students were sitting in the classroom, scared, with the lights off and were told they weren’t able to leave or have anyone pick them up until the incident was resolved.
EPC students do practice lockdown drills at least four times a year, as per Aspen View Public Schools’ emergency procedures policy (AP 311).
There two types of lockdown alerts — a Hold & Secure is used for situations where for the most part it is business as usual, but students are not allowed to leave the building, while an Emergency Lockdown is put in place for more serious incidents involving intruders, weapons or threats to the school on a mass scale.
Fifteen minutes after the initial notifications to parents went out, another went out at 11:16 a.m. to advise the Hold & Secure had been lifted, while another two hours later one more provided an update on the alleged attempted assault with a weapon.
“Staff intervened quickly to end the incident without anyone being harmed. EPC was placed into a Hold & Secure for approximately one hour while RCMP attended. We thank our students, staff and school families for their cooperation,” said a follow-up message to update parents/guardians at 1:23 p.m.
One parent who received the notifications, but asked not to be identified, said she appreciated being alerted and trusted the school would handle the situation appropriately, but couldn’t deny the initial jolt of anxiety she felt when hearing her child’s school was locked down and that police had been called.
“I’m just really happy no one got hurt,” she said.